Student arrested for shock prank camera

A few weeks ago BB posted a link to instructions for modifying a camera to shock the user.

Well, it would appear that a 14 year old student decided to try it out. And took it to school. Where he was arrested. No way to know for sure if the student in question found the instructions through BB, but the timing is intriguing.

200804031052 A school resource officer says the makeshift device was potentially capable of producing a 600-volt shock.

The student has been charged with possession of a dangerous weapon on school grounds, attempted assault and breach of peace.



  1. Yep. Take one of those cameras apart, charge the capacitor, and touch the leads to a butter knife. The results will surprise you.

    (Dont use a knife you dont want “weld marks” on)

  2. I did that once in high school… I think I actually made it AT school, for that matter.

    Although I would usually just seed mayhem by giving the camera/tazer away, since McGuyver’d camera/tazers are difficult to retrieve from pockets without zapping oneself.

    Thank God this was all before Virginia Tech, 9/11 and Columbine, when pranks weren’t terroristic threats.

  3. You wonder what happened in the classroom…

    A: “Hey, can you take a picture for me with this shiny camera?”

    B: “Sure.”


    B: “Ouch, what the ****? It hurts!”

    A laughed out loud.

    Nobody else in the classroom laughed.

  4. I used to make things like this when I was a kid. It actually went over as what it was when I was in-school- a prank/joke. Nobody complained and nobody considered it to be an act of terrorism.

    I stopped when it occurred to me that it would be extremely dangerous for someone with a heart condition or something similar. I’ll note too that at the time- devices like this were available at retail from stores like Spencers. I don’t believe they are anymore.

  5. i think I saw this on the news this morning. But they reported it was a home made taser and he shocked a security guard with it. I don’t know who to believe…

  6. Did anyone catch the phrase “potentially capable” of producing a 600 volt shock? I’m potentially capable of kicking someone’s ass, but I’ve never been arrested for it.

    I guess I’d better throw out my water-squirting flower pin and my handshake shocker buzzer.

    Next, it’ll be the whoopee cushions.

  7. No one is considering this an act of terrorism. But trying to cast this as a harmless prank may be equally unfounded.

    When I was 14, people in my Jr. High School used these modded cameras to deliberately hurt people, myself included. I didn’t find it that funny.

    Considering the demographics of this site, I can’t imagine I’m the only one who has fond school memories of repeated, unpunished assault. So going to bat for this kid strikes me as crappy, even if that 600v stat is trumped up.

  8. Hell, you’re potentially capable of producing a shock over 3000V by wearing the right sort of socks.

  9. At the time of the original posting, I thought it was actually a fairly evil idea. But, then, I zapped myself once or twice while disassembling the flash electronics from a bag full of used disposable 35mm cameras that were popular in the 90s.

    You used to be able to just go to a local photo processor and they’d often happily provide a bag full of the disposable cameras after the film had been removed, with flash and integral alkaline battery intact.

    Anyway, hitting someone with a high-voltage shock goes beyond ‘haha’ funny or harmless jokes. God forbid they happen to be touching something that’s grounded with their other free hand, the circuit through their heart could be fatal.

    I have zero problem with someone being arrested over using this against someone. It’s about as funny as sneaking peanuts into the food of someone who is allergic to them, which is to say, not at all.

  10. i don’t think boingboing was the only website that provided directions. the kid could have read geekologie, for example. not that that particular line of thought (somebody else will do it too, so it doesn’t matter if i do it) is justified, i’m just trying to make sure boingboing’s ego doesn’t get too inflated :)

  11. If the guy used the flash circuit from a (disposable) camera, no way it could get anywhere near 600 volts. 250 – 300 volts would be closer to the mark. Even my rather powerful Metz tops out at 310 volts.
    BTW, the part of the circuit that triggers the flash tube (as opposed to the circuit that powers it) can generate several thousand volts, but the amount of energy it is capable of is so tiny that you wouldn’t even notice.

  12. Well, while I think an actual arrest is dumb, he should at least get a serious lecture.

    I’m not an electrician, but given the number of high-school athletes who succumb to undiagnosed heart defects, I would have to be concerned about the minor shock causing a cardiac episode. Even if the episode amounts to little more than a panic attack, it could still have serious ramifications.

    But I could be wrong. Maybe it’s perfectly safe, and the authorities are just tards. In either case, I don’t think it was wrong for BB to post the article. I also don’t think there should be warning signs everywhere – although it does make sense in some cases (i.e., when danger is not readily apparent), overkill will simply dull the impact of all the other signs out there.

    “Warning! You are not Phinneas Gage. You won’t survive having a railway nail blown through your head!”

  13. shockers go back to the days of the Model T. Little wooden boxes with spark coils inside, a battery, old,old”joke”.

  14. @Chromal:

    I don’t think your peanut analogy is quite, well, analogous.

    If, God forbid, someone happens to be allergic to peanuts, giving them something that contains peanuts could be deadly. If that someone isn’t allergic to peanuts, it hardly matters

    Likewise, if, God forbid, someone happens to have a heart condition or be touching something grounded with their other free hand (would that actually cause a problem??), then shocking them with a camera could be deadly. If that someone fit neither criterion, then it would hardly matter.

    So, it seems that this camera prank is no more dangerous than bringing peanut-containing foods to school. That is to say, not very.

  15. Heh, why when “I” was 14, I was making Jacobs Ladders with old oil furnace transformers.

    Kids these days…

  16. As a follow up, reading the article, the arrest was over bringing the device on school grounds, and not over using it. Which.. is odd. If they didn’t use it, how were they ever caught? Perhaps they simply couldn’t prove it had been used. But if it wasn’t discharged into someone, the arrest seems unjustified.

  17. weren’t those fun? Remember how the shock when you screwed up felt like a giant, white hot spike instantly slammed up your forearm, hand to elbow? Ah, youth!

  18. @19 – Exactly the right line of thought.
    Has anyone noticed that they sell shockers all over the place in the US? I personally own a ballpoint pen, cigarette lighter, and pack of gum, which are all shockers. I’ll also second the other comments that A)It’s not the voltage that kills you, B)I hardly think it’ll deliver 600v without some special mods, and C)it’s a prank, I doubt there was any serious malice to it.

  19. #14: Since the circuit of the flash unit is not referenced to earth ground (techies refer to this as “floating”) whether or not the “subject” touches earth ground won’t make any difference at all.

    And BTW, these disposable cameras are still quite popular. I regularly get them at the photo lab so I can scavenge the flash circuits, which can be put to use in a number of interesting ways apart from shocking people. Miniature strobes, “disposable” pocket size slave flashes…

  20. i thought it was pretty stupid when i saw the original post, but i didn’t want to be troll, or didn’t have time. it seemed well below the usual caliber of boingboing links. not funny, just mean.

  21. this was widely posted that week. my guess is the kid saw it at digg, or reddit, or slashdot, or who knows where.

  22. I guess some C-4 in lieu of film, a cheap digital watch with alarm and maybe an old cellphone for non-time delay remote would make good use of the flash current for — oh! sorry, was that my out loud voice again?

  23. Wow, there’s a surprising amount of granny-panties being worn today…

    I just can’t help but be silently stunned by the amount of people wetting themselves over what’s basically a joy buzzer. The kind of toy that didn’t injure or kill our parents, grandparents and-great grandparents.

  24. Geekpdx, and other apologists: It doesn’t really matter; I take seriously my right to not be subjected to unexpected electrical shocks. This seems pretty obvious. No matter how funny something may seem, even if earlier social standards allowed it, it’s really not acceptable to subject someone to something hurtful or unpleasant without their consent. It’s called bullying, and is completely indefensible, period. Whether or not that was the case here is unclear, due to crappy journalism.

  25. and FWIW, a “Joy Buzzer” is not an elctrical device. It uses a spring to create a vibration that would startle your victim.

  26. Chromal,

    Let me know when you’ve managed to miraculously prevent kids (and adults) from being mischievous in addition to sharing your limited sense of humor. Until then, the best course of action seems to be not getting stressed out about joy buzzers.

    For people that must stress out about something, I suggest:
    World Hunger
    Gerorge Bush
    Dick Cheney
    Macro Economics
    Children too poor to afford shock toys

  27. Pulling dumb pranks is part of being a kid (I would actually argue part of being human regardless of age) and often so is getting caught and punished for it. The problem here is that the issue of pranking is far outwieghed by the issue of an inappropriate level of punishment.

    Use a shock toy in school and the response level should be take it away, possibly detention, at most suspension but not criminal charges.

  28. So if someone he “pranks” kicks his teeth in do you just chalk that up to being a kid? People that think shocking other people is funny need to be sterilized, or given a job at the CIA.

  29. #24

    the shocker lighters are evil. my friend had one shaped like a small pistol [wonder what would happen if a kid brought /that/ to school] where the trigger was a shock and the…I don’t know what you call it…thin on the end that goes up and down lit your cigarette.

    funnily enough whenever I saw it laying around, I would always eventually succumb to the urge to shock myself.

  30. @TRR: Nobody erred in posting instructions – even boingboing had a warning. The kid erred in taking the joke too far or not using enough caution with the prank. He can blame nobody but himself.

  31. Landowner,

    A prank shock deserves sterilization? I can totally see how that and the physical damage resulting from kicked in teeth are on par with a harmless prank. That’s asynchronous moralization, tool of the fundamentalist.

    I despise CIA torture as much as any reasonable and compassionate person should, but I hardly think that anyone who’s shocked someone else using a prank toy has descended to the level of professional torturers, do you?

  32. I hear all the people who agree with it not being funny but, at the same time, there are a lot of other things that we do not like and yet have to go through to be adults.

    What do you say to your kids when they get pushed over in the backyard by neighbors kids? Do you go to their house and complain to parents? OK, lovely, what are you going to do when your kids are 18 or 40 and their boss bullies them? Are you going to defend them too?

    I got shocked in school a few times – not pretty – but somehow survived. This is when I learned to watch my back. Pulling the civilization/society/social responsibility card may seem mature but kids certainly do not give a fsck about it.

    In any case, the arrest is way over the fucking top. If I were arrested for every “crime” I did, I would be probably doing life now. Police – get a life, catch criminals. Enough of the terrorist/criminal bullshit.

    Keep calm. Move on.

  33. Warped priorities.

    We freak out and kick kids out of school for anything that might possibly maybe be a sign that they’re going to commit one of the INCREDIBLY violent school flip outs, but we don’t do a damn thing about the routine torment that the kids at the bottom of the pecking order go through.

    Nerdy (presumably) kid produces relatively harmless prank device, gets arrested. Jock asswipes beat on ‘weird’ kid every day for 4 to 12 years? Get occasional reprimand. WTF.

  34. When I was in school I did a ‘shock box’ as a freakin’ crafts project, ferchrissakes. (got me an A+ too!) What has happened to people?

    Encourage their curiosity. Make sure your precious little snowflakes understand how stuff works. Teach them some sense of responsibility to know what not to do, and why. Let them have fun with the rest, and be independent among themselves.

    (They told me that shocking my fellow students or my other teachers was clean old fun. They also told me I shouldn’t startle this particular older teacher because he might have a weak heart. And guess what, I didn’t. Hands-on, I learned to make a conscious decision about right and wrong.) Instead…

    “Improvised electronic demobilizing device”. “Possession of a dangerous weapon”. WTF!? And of course the always popular “breach of peace”.

    With any luck this student will be so scared into submission by this arrest that he won’t be capable of any creative engineering task or any free thinking again in his life. Well done.

  35. The kid could’ve found the info anywhere, but “no way of knowing for sure”? Someone could always ask him, I guess. Anybody suggesting that this blog is even marginally culpable needs to have their head examined. I’d wait for some kid to off himself using a steampunk Rube Goldberg machine that spits crocheted Yoda dolls before worrying about contributing to BB’s legal defense fund.

    What the kid did was stupid, sure. That’s what kids do. Bullying is awful, I know, and it’s terrible to attempt to diminish the problem by saying that everyone goes through it. It’s not true, many people don’t, but plenty of folks think that if something awful once happened to them, it should be a rite of passage for everyone. Still, taking a principled stand in the comments section of a blog is about as meaningful and effective as doing so on your local cable access channel.

    If you must become so enraged over an encounter that thankfully left no one dead, unlike the police Taser incident that recently cost a Goodyear employee his life, please do so at an upcoming city council meeting, in whichever city you happen to reside. Extra points if your appearance is uploaded to YouTube. Mention a rogue helicopter pilot and win the Internets. Really, though. You want to make the world a saner place? Stop btchng so much about what kids are doing, and figure out a way to hit their parents with an intelligence ray.

  36. cameras!? in schools!? i’m shocked! when will schools learn that electricity is a privilege not a right?!

    this hooligan deserves to have the book thrown at him, its too bad there were not enough rent-a-cops there to dog pile and tase him. if the government spent less billions on fancy planes and more billions on feeding students and hire-ing lots and lots of rent-a-cops to roam the schools tragedies like this might not happen. < \ sarcasm >

  37. markfrei :”600 Volts is so meaningless – it the current that will kill ya…”

    I wish people would stop saying this. What kills you is the amount of current through the heart for a certain period of time (such as 0.1 A for 1 second).

    I can easily build a 12 V battery with 1A going through a 12 Ω resistor. I won’t die if I touch the wire. I can also build a 450 V power supply with 0.00001 A going through a resistor. In this case I very well could die if I touch the wire. Why? Your body touching the wire is a resistor in parallel. In the worst case you body resistance could be as low as 300 Ω. In that case 30 V can kill you. Normally it will be much higher. Additionally, lower current though your heart for longer periods of time can also kill you.

    And why don’t Tasers, touching van de Graaf generators, or touching doorknobs kill you? It is the time that the current can pass through your heart. Touching a lead to a large 450 V power supply is not going to appreciably change its operation and cause the voltage to drop. The opposite is true for a doorknob or a van de Graaf generator.

    To summarize: don’t touch high voltage equipment that can maintain the voltage over your body resistance for a significant period of time. It is impossible to calculate from the current in an object alone exactly how much current could go through your heart if you touch it. You would also need to know the resistances involved. On the other hand, you can estimate how much current can go through your heart based on the voltage alone (since your body resistance would be in parallel). Use voltage as your guide for safety.

  38. Hmm, I was about to hazard a guess about which posters were bullied, and which were bullies (what a world of difference between two adjacent letters on the keyboard!) in school, but it’s too obvious an inference to draw.

    As for “why, when I was a kid we poked people’s eyes out with knitting needles and people just thought it was good clean fun”—the world has IMPROVED in that respect. When I was in junior high, I was allowed to play, in school, with a blob of mercury, wobbling it on my bare and open palm for a full class period. It’s not so much that we’re all stuffy, it’s that we know better now.

    You don’t have to be frail and elderly to have a heart condition. And you don’t have to have a heart condition to have a right to choose whether you’ll undergo a painful electric shock.

    It’s not funny. No prank is funny unless it’s funny to the victim.

    That said, if the kid didn’t actually use it on anyone, the criminal charges sound a little excessive. However, arresting him, taking him down to the police station, yelling at him a lot, making his parents come get him, yelling at them a lot, then dropping the charges and letting him go? NOT excessive. Exactly right, in fact.

    My. I regress to my childhood religion—Behaviorism—when I get excited, don’t I?

  39. geekpdx

    The apologists for this kid seem to think that getting the kids ready for real life is the answer. Well in real life if you shock me I’m calling the cops if your bigger than me and frankly if your smaller I’m gonna try my best to kick your ass.
    And that is the way the real world works. No one comes and says that thats just what boys do and lets you off easy.
    You want to get through life? Don’t be violent, and shocking people is violent. Do you see?

  40. Patrick 40: If the shock camera could be used on the asswipe jocks, I’d be all for it. I have to admit.

    Ah, if I had only known then what I know now. A lot of these bastard-ass bullies would have found that their Coke™ didn’t taste so good with habanero juice!

  41. I did an internship at Juvey. I can’t say for sure but I am going to guess that the charges against this kid are going to get dropped or severely reduced. When cops arrest kids at school, more often than not they want to make an example and get overzealous with the charges brought against them – and yes, the charges against this kid are completely overblown. The D.A.’s office have bigger fish to fry – WAY bigger fish – so they might ask for some community service if anything at all.

    If you guys are upset about weapons at school, I suggest you put your energies into preventing guns and knives coming into classrooms, which happens every day and does result in deaths, unlike this guy’s camera.

  42. I’ve never understood why stuff like this has ever been considered funny. By definition, isn’t this assault?

  43. @ #47 posted by Xopher ,

    It’s not funny. No prank is funny unless it’s funny to the victim.

    Spot on! Couldn’t agree more!

  44. Ceronomus

    Thats the point I wanted to make. It’s not a prank. It’s an assault. We are not doing children a service by letting them off easy until they are 18 and then we throw them to the wolves.
    And lets face it bully prankster are dicks. Best to let them know early that they are not appreciated.
    In case you’re wondering I was too big to be picked on much. I’m still allowed to hate bullies.

  45. Jeebus Cripes people! He’s 14! Lighten up! Gods, with some of you lot in charge we’d be hanging litterbugs for first offenses. Better to be merciful, your turn in the dock ALWAYS comes around.

  46. Things like this aren’t used to bully people, they’re used to show off to one’s friends. If this “improvised electronic demobilizing device” were to be used on anyone outside his group, it would involve convincing the mark to use it; therefore, all of you are safe. But hey, at least it wasn’t a gun/drug/porno.

    These disposable cameras clearly need better warning labels, their sale restricted to adults, and EULAs defining legitimate use. Remember kiddies, science is dangerous! If it isn’t on the test, just say no!

    (Disclosure: A friend of mine did something similar in high school. We all got shocked. We all laughed. No one was sterilized.)

  47. 600 Volts? What is that .01% of a strong taser, and yet you don’t need a license to carry one of those. Next time he needs to carry a backpack full of daisy chained potatoes and two 16p nails.

  48. #53 posted by Takuan ,

    all humour is based on suffering

    “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die.”
    — Mel Brooks

  49. ectually old boy, I learned that from “Stranger In A Strange Land”. Took me some time to understand it though. ook-ook

  50. I’m wondering how that camera is “potentially” capable of generating 600V. I’ve taken apart a couple of cameras because I saw this idea in the MAKE magazine projects RSS, and pretty much all of the capacitors are 300V and somewhere around 100-180 microfarads. The instructions for the “shocking camera” mod say to take out this camera, so really all you’re going to get is a continuous 300V shock from the secondary coil in the circuit until you let go. Considering it’s coming from a 1.5V battery, I’m pretty sure the amperage of the shock is low for such a huge step-up in voltage. There really isn’t much chance for that thing to be dangerous unless the kid didn’t take out the capacitor which *can* give a nasty shock.

    In any case, I’m still left wondering where they’re getting the 600V figure from…

  51. It’s not true though, Takuan. I classify humor into two types, which I call “yuks” and “wit.” Yuks are all based on someone’s suffering: anything from minor embarrassment to painful death. Wit is conceptual and generally doesn’t involve anyone suffering.

    For example, if I say “There are two kinds of people in the world: those who divide people into two groups, and those who don’t. I’m in the second group,” that is humor (and yes, there are people besides me who think so), but not based on anyone’s suffering.

    All Hollywood “comedies” these days are Yuk-based humor. Wit seems to have gone out with Tracy and Hepburn.

  52. i remember taking a part a camera as a kid and accidentally discharging the capacitor… my arm was numb for the rest of the day. so i’m willing to take the schools word for it being dangerous. at the very least he exercised some poor judgement that a few days of suspension will help cure.

  53. George Carlin was definitely right about the pussification of America.

    I build exhibits for science museums. I just completed a major exhibit on electricity in Mexico City. One of the most popular displays in the exhibit is an innocuous looking display where one kid puts their hand on a hand-shaped cutout with two concealed metal contacts, and another kid turns the crank. I don’t think I have to tell you what happens next.

    Guess what the single most popular display in the whole exhibit is? Yep, you guessed it. The one where kids get shocked and shock their friends. T ll y srry sds whnng bt gttng shckd, mght sggst tht y try NT bng sch cndy-sss fr whl?

  54. We did this on the bus to San Antonio in my freshman year. Someone had a disposable camera for the trip, opened it up, fiddled, and handed it to someone. “Hey, get a picture!”

    ZAP “FUCK! AGH!” -drop- -bus stares, begins laughing-

    “Oh man, that hurt!” “Buddy, try pressing it.” “No WAY that guy like nearly hit the roof.” “Wimp.” “Give it to me.” “Look at that Buddy, tiny Tenn’s gonna do it! Owned by a girl.”

    -grab press shudder- “owwww…” “Ha. I win.” -someone else takes it- “BZAHAGH!”

    We ended up taking it in turns to see who could stand the shock the longest, how many people grouped up it took to null the charge, if grounding ourselves would do anything, hey, I’ve got a metal bobby OW THAT REALLY HURTS!

    Our JROTC Sergeant may have had a vague idea of what was going on, but like the poker game where we bet with gum, he pretended he wasn’t there.

    My hair stood on end, I had the twitches and small burns from trying to chain a pair of them, my friend dropped it in his lap and almost sterilized himself.

    Like the wooden playgrounds, playing Smear the Queer (before we even understood the concept of queer at 5-10 years old), using water guns and water balloons and running through the apartment complex hellbent on capturing the flag, playing king of the hill and requiring stitches, falling off of trees…. it’s one of my best memories.

  55. @47 (and others)

    “No prank is funny unless it is funny to the victim.”

    Well, I have been shocked and I have laughed hysterically about it. So, are we only to prosecute based upon whether or not the victim of this kid’s camera (and have we ascertained with certainty that there was one or did he just get caught with it somehow) got the joke? Humor is wholly subjective and cannot be the basis for any rational system of rules and/or punishment

    The response to this by the authorities and several posters in this comment thread (don’t project your personal childhood tragedies into other peoples stories) is out of line with the behaviour regardless of the age of the person with the shock camera. There are real crimes and problems in the world and particularly in our schools – this is not and never will be one of them. Bullying is serious but it doesn’t happen via poor gags like shock toys. If all a bully ever did was trick you with a shock toy then bullying would not be a problem.

  56. Antinous,

    If we had your croquet bats, then we would have really been in hell! As it happens, now we tailor it to whoever is the victim. Right now it’s been Mohamad for a while, so it’s Towelhead Tumble. I’ll probably get it next and it’ll be Buddhist Bash. A while later it’ll be Travis and it’ll be Kraut Killer. We like alliteration and making fun of people’s religion / race / gender / anything, really.

    But we love eachother. :)

  57. Tenn @75 – I like your perspective. Being an old guy I don’t often remember how much of my time in school was spent on whaling on and being whaled on. Whether it was just pranking each other, playing basketball or football, or just horsing around. It almost always ended in laughter all around. And on those times it didn’t, apologies were exchanged and everything was eventually forgiven and forgotten. It was a much simpler time.

  58. That sucks, I did this years ago at school, teacher got zapped and we just all pissed ourselves laughing, including the teacher.

  59. It doesn’t deliver a “painful” electric shock. It’s much more startling than shocking, and it certainly isn’t “demobilizing”. To put this straight, these intstructions make it clear that the nasty capacitor gets removed first.

    #47 Xopher: Um, yes, when I trust my kids that they are responsible enough to try something on themselves before they use it as a prank on others, I don’t worry about knitting needles, even today.

    If you’re inferring that everyone is the bully type who defends pranking their friends, you couldn’t be more wrong. Usually it was me getting bullied. They didn’t need improvised devices, and they don’t arrest them for that. I don’t see any of your “improved” world here.

    On the contrary, statistically speaking, this means that the proportion between punishments has shifted away from preventing aggressive antisocial behavior. Towards preventing non-aggressive social pranks.

    By your definition, a jack-in-the-box is a “potentially deadly assault weapon”, yes? You never know if the “victim” has a heart condition. And unsolicited teasing and tickling between a group of friends is antisocial behavior and a punishable offense too. Because you have the right to choose.

    Yes it was funny. They were my friends. We laughed. Haha, got me. They still were my friends afterwards, even moreso. We didn’t “assault” each other, we “socialized”. Nowadays they aren’t supposed to do this anymore?

    Nothing has changed here. When there are bans at your schools against hugging each other, an atmosphere of fear of getting arrested for harmless interaction, honestly, what creatures are you breeding!

  60. This idea’s been around for nearly as long as disposable cameras with flash have. When I was in highschool 10 years ago, a kid had disassembled a camera with similar intent — I’m sure instructions were floating around the net back then too.

  61. It would have been ironic if they Tased the kid while arresting him.
    The shock gag is unfunny but arresting him for having a deadly weapon is insane.
    Anyone with hands has a deadly weapon. Hands can strangle another person.
    Now this kid will have a felony arrest on his record for a prank.It could wreck his ability to get a job. he should be happy they didn’t put him in Gitmo. Under the so called “Patriot” act shotting a BB gun at a stop sign is considered a terrorist act.
    The brain doesn’t reach emotional maturity until around age 25. Kids do dumb things.
    In my day this would have led to a detention.
    I want to see the police, and politicians and other public servants held accountable for their actions, that would set an example that actions have consequences.

  62. Takuan 64: I give an example of Wit in the middle para of 63. If you don’t find that funny…well, that’s OK, lots of people don’t, and you know what? I don’t find South Park funny. *shrug*

    Absurdist 73: I hope you built it that so that a kid with an undiagnosed heart condition won’t take harm from it. You almost certainly built it so that it’s a lower level of electric shock than the one we’re talking about here, and also…remember that distinction between voluntary and involuntary? Unless your display had a sign that said “put your hands here, and when your friend turns the crank you’ll get a piece of candy,” it’s relevant here.

    Tenn 75: All the kids except the first were doing it voluntarily. And had I (as a teenager) been there, I’d’ve been in the front of the bus, reading and trying to ignore the described activities as much as possible.

    But then, I also wouldn’t have been in JROTC. Military units, fraternities, and certain other organizations bond by competing, which is something I’ve never really understood or had any desire to participate in. (Not saying it’s bad, just not for me.)

    The 77: That’s my point. When you got shocked, it was funny. When I get shocked, it is not. If the person who set you up knew you well enough to know that you’d find it funny, no bad on them. Jokes fall flat, and all you can do is apologize. When it’s actually physically painful, it’s best to use extreme care. Few teenagers have the judgement to know that they can shock you but not me.

    Argon 82: Obviously there are some variations, since Tenn (taking essentially the same position you do) reports the shock as very painful.

    That might be an important point. If I were pranked with a startling electric shock, I’d be annoyed rather than amused. If I were pranked with a painful one, I would smash the camera. If I were pranked with an actual electrical burn, I would smash the camera—in the prankster’s face.

    Maybe we’ve been talking at cross-purposes, in other words.

    But that said, I’m well aware that my own case is extreme. For one thing, I had more than my fill of having pain deliberately inflicted on me, and cruel jokes played on me, at home. I selected my friends from among the people who would not do such things; any one who did so even once was an ex-friend from that moment.

    But in addition to that, I had undiagnosed ADHD. (There was no such thing, you see, when I was in school. If I didn’t stay in my seat, the right thing to do was punish me. And “not paying attention” was also a punishable offense. See why I think today’s world is better in some respects?) One of the symptoms is that unexpected changes in my environment are very distressing to me, much more than to the average person. If you gave me a surprise party, these days (with meds) I would put on a brave face and pretend to enjoy it, but I would actually be pretty upset. My friends know better than to give me surprise parties.

    So “here, take a picture” followed by “ha ha, it was a joke” would bother me even without the shock (suppose the viewfinder just had an annoying picture in it, or was painted black, or something). It’s the standard bully practice of pretending to be a friend so you can laugh and say “ha, you were stupid enough to think I was your friend!” But that wouldn’t have happened to me by the time I was a senior. By then, I had a small circle of friends who would never play such tricks on me, and rejected any friendly overtures from anyone else, because I’d learned they were never, ever sincere.

    It took me years—decades, really—to get over the hell of highschool.

    So perhaps my perspective is a little distorted.

    Merreborn 83: Disposable cameras are an innovation that happened after I left high school, thank gods.

    DrBlack 84: Unless things have changed even more than I think they have, his juvenile record will be expunged when he hits 18. But I share your desire for more accountability at the “highest” levels in society, and, actually, less at the “lower.”

  63. I played with camera capacitors in high school. I didn’t shock others, but, of course, I shocked myself many times. It is not pleasant; it can be compared to being to slapped on the face (on the emotional response level). Thus if the ‘prankster’ device got into the hands of a school official or a police officer, they are really inclined to put the guy into jail, just out of revenge. But, of course, the whole ‘ordeal’ is incredibly stupid. As someone who tried it on myself, I confirm that the device is harmless.

  64. Absurdist 87: If you’re going to be a macho jerk, could you go over to the macho jerk website, please? You raised an interesting point at 73, but it was bracketed with rude comments, which are not appreciated here.

    If you insist on calling names and insulting us, do please FOAD at your earliest convenience.

  65. Xopher 88: So instead of letting my comments stand on their own, you on this site have chosen to censor them. So much for freedom of expression, eh? Or is that freedom only allowed to those who agree with you?

    Freedom of speech overrides your right not to be offended. Sometimes there are far more important issues than one’s delicate sensibilities. Such as, as George Carlin put it, the pussification of America. Couch it in whatever terms you deem acceptable, the point remains. And please note, I didn’t refer to anyone on this board as a pussy, unlike you who referred to me as a “macho jerk.” I can point to a lifetime’s creative work as evidence against your claims. What do you have to offer up other than scurrilous whispers?

    Don’t worry, I’ll avoid your playhouse from now on. Any blog whose members/moderators are so sensitive that they wilt in direct sunlight isn’t exactly my cup of hemlock.

  66. Tak-kun

    You make a good point. And when I say good, I mean one that I’ve been thinking about lately.

    What makes a good comment? So many of the comments in these threads are just speeches. But does a speech bring any value to the discussion? I don’t think so. I understand that, in a thread about economics, there might be a lot of theory expounded. And that seems reasonable. But that kind of discussion is the exception to the rule.

    What I don’t see nearly enough of is commenters sharing their personal experiences. When you expound theory or pontificate, all it tells me is that you know how to get to Wikipedia. How about telling me something that happened in your own life that gives you some insight into the subject.

    The most regular commenters, you, me and Jeff for example, leave a pretty strong impression of ourselves in our comments. I might not know your height and weight, let alone your mysterious age, but I certainly know who you are as a person.

    When someone leaves a lengthy comment about how life should be, I don’t know who the hell they are. Am I reading a diatribe on urban planning from a fifteen year old who’s never left rural Wyoming? That fifteen year old might be an expert on the subject, but I’d sure like to know why that is.

    Speeches don’t help. Particularly the ones that start with “You people”. When you start off like that, even if you’re announcing that the sky is blue, you’ll still get disagreement just because of your tone. If you don’t want to convey your idea in a way that encourages others to consider it, why are you wasting your time typing it?

    Several posts in the last two weeks, particularly the ones on transgender issues, have brought regular commenters out of the closet of complete anonymity. It helps to understand who people are and what they’ve gone through. Knowing that you have children, or that you live in Japan, or that you’re in high school ROTC gives depth to comments and takes them out of the realm of speechifying into real discourse.

  67. Dear Xopher:

    “For example, if I say “There are two kinds of people in the world: those who divide people into two groups, and those who don’t. I’m in the second group,” that is humor (and yes, there are people besides me who think so), but not based on anyone’s suffering.”

    To be in the second group as the speaker who avers creates suffering in the other group- the excluded, the other,the stranger,the wrong, the witch. You have created suffering with the “wit” humour. Besides, you imply I’m stooopid.

  68. see the green residue on the rim of your cup? Don’t worry, the dizziness will pass and you will be fine in an hour.

  69. Heh heh, get it? Take you on? And then take-you-on-doh! It’s a kind of karate. Get it? Get it? LOLROFLMAOUIPMPAVACTD!

  70. nope, but I’m gonna have to lie down again soon. Never pick up anything heavier than your conscience.

  71. I know about high voltage electricity! I work on tube audio equipment, which has voltages up to 500V all over inside. It’s dangerous and scary because this gear is capable of delivering enough current through your heart to make it stop for good, and you wouldn’t be missed until you were room temperature. Forever. The capacitor in a flash camera will not deliver enough electrons to stop your heart but it will make you swear in all the languages you know and maybe invent some others.

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