Star Simpson, one year after Boston airport terror-scare: unedited BBtv interview transcript

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127 Responses to “Star Simpson, one year after Boston airport terror-scare: unedited BBtv interview transcript”

  1. Sekino says:

    Who the hell did she think she was to stand apart from the crowd? How did she possibly think she had the right to wear whatever LED-adorned clothing she wanted?

    GASP! How so incredibly UN-American of her!! To stand out… How.Dare.She.

    Am I still on the continent I think I am??

  2. TEKNA2007 says:

    Star: Our culture is crazy; you are sane. Some people spit on you, but a lot of people think it’s completely unfair that this is how it went down. Sorry you had to go through all this. All you did was wear a sweatshirt with a cool toy on it. Boston should apologize to you.

    I hope you use a lot of your community service time telling your side of the story.

    America was founded by disorderly people.

  3. Purly says:

    Why can’t I edit the spelling of my post after the fact?

    I intended to say soldering, not saudering.

  4. Maddy says:

    I hope some enterprising lawyer takes this case on for a big fat [bill murray voice here] “And I’ll sue your ass for wrongful prosecution” suit. A+ Harvard lawyers motivated by a big settlement usually cream C+ City College lawyers working for the city.

  5. christov says:

    Donr52 #100
    It is all understandable when you consider it was bad judgement on all sides. When you are the MA police and you have the Secretary of Homeland Security personally interested in the case, you don’t pipe up and say this is a baseless case. For each individual in the system, the cost of speaking up is greater than any potential benefit. In addition, as I’ve noted before, her lawyer gave her the narrow-minded but common advice to say nothing to the press. A good PR expert would stand up to this and point out that the case is being driven by the public response, which needs to be addressed directly. But, you know, she’s just 20 and believes that the system is basically fair.

  6. Anonymous says:

    This is EXACTLY the type of situation that keeps me from visiting the states.

  7. romulusnr says:

    TSA is dum.

    Or: Electronics are dangerous. So are chemicals. And computers. We should ban them.

    (Please pick one.)

  8. Skullhunter says:

    @ Engine Here:

    I think the problem here is that you’re assuming she’s saying she knew she was going to provoke a reaction when she went to the airport. I don’t really think that’s the case. I mean seriously, you just quoted it in your last post:

    STAR: “I was thinking it was a cold day. It was a sweatshirt. If I’d seen my work through their eyes, no, it wouldn’t have made any sense to wear it. But I didn’t see it that way.”

    If I’d seen my work through their eyes. Past tense. She didn’t think about it at that time. So no, it most definitely isn’t obvious she knew she was going to provoke a reaction. She didn’t walk out the door that day thinking that her fellow citizens were dumb, panicky animals and she wasn’t going to care. She didn’t think to herself that she was going to cause a big stir and get on the news. She went to go see a friend.

    Yes, you are getting a harsh reaction here. You know why? You’re blaming the victim and you’re engaged in apologizing for the irrational behavior on the part of law enforcement, even if you are couching it in careful “Well they overreacted BUT she caused that overreaction” language. As I mentioned in the previous thread on this story, it begins to sound unpleasantly like “She asked for it, dressing/behaving so provocatively”. Exactly the kind of statement used to defend rapists in the past and murderers in the present, with the case of Angie Zapata so fresh in my mind.

    If you’re looking for an echo chamber for your thoughts, you’ve come to the wrong place. And if you don’t like the comparison, too damn bad.

  9. Eicos says:

    I’m not suggesting that the response of the authorities was appropriately scaled to the event. On the contrary, it sounds like the police envisioned themselves in a 24 episode, shouting and screaming when some simple, level-headed discussion might have resolved the confusion; the conduct of the prosecutors was similarly backwards, holding Ms. Simpson hostage to public opinion long after her charges should have been dismissed.

    However, I am a little surprised at the sngl mnddnss with which today’s commenters are defending Ms. Simpson’s actions. The prevailing sense here seems to be that no rational observer should have been worried at the sight of the object pasted to Ms. Simpson’s sweater. Ths, flks, s rdcls.

    Of course you and I know LEDs, batteries, and breadboards from a bomb, but regular people don’t, nor is it fair for makers to expect them to, any more than doctors expect us to know a hemangioma from a staph infection. The popular conception of a bomb is a device with lights, exposed wires, and batteries. This much is fact – we can discuss whether or not this is a realistic conception, but I don’t think this fact is up for debate. So we have established that Ms. Simpson was wearing an unusual device which, to many uneducated observers, would resemble a bomb.

    Then, while wearing this device, Ms. Simpson entered a domain which, t nvrsl pblc knwldg, nd lmst nnms pblc grmnt is subject to especially stringent security procedures. (We will leave out the discussion of whether current procedures are effective or warranted [both questions to which I think the answer may be "no"], since it is sufficient that Ms. Simpson knew that these procedures were in effect.) From a young age, children are warned to be circumspect in the airport, and not to make jokes about bombings or hijacking. And this is not because we want to restrict speech, but because such jokes would decrease the signal/noise ratio for security personnel – we don’t restrict any other kinds of speech in airports (a few isolated incidents aside.) The argument that employees should somehow have decided it was TOO obvious to be a bomb is really quite silly – suppose somebody walks into a bank carrying a pistol. Would we really think, “If he were trying to rob the bank, he would be hiding the pistol, and since he is not, it must be really be a toy pistol or an art project.” Of course not.

    And so, when Ms. Simpson walked into the airport wearing a sweater which could sly be predicted to scream “BOMB” to any uninformed member of the public, airport employees were not unjustified in raising alarm – and Ms. Simpson either knew, or should have known, that this would be the effect of her actions. This is really not about free speech, since anybody who knows anything about the law knows that there have always been limits to free speech where the rights of others are concerned. There is a difficult balance to draw when restricting speech, and I think that the US is much closer to getting it right than most European countries. But even with the great difficulty of these issues, it should be clear that just as it is inappropriate to walk into a bank holding a toy pistol, it was inappropriate for Ms. Simpson to walk into an airport wearing a breadboard with exposed wires on her chest.

  10. PKMousie says:

    A few people have suggested that, since Star is a student at MIT, she could not possibly have been ‘stupid’ enough to fail to anticipate the reaction she was going to get. Therefore, it’s her fault for deliberately provoking the hostilities.

    Having dated someone from MIT, I can assure you it’s quite possible to be a complete moron and still attend that particular school.

  11. GeekMan says:

    SEKINO: I think you may have missed the sarcastic intent of FUNERALPUDDING’s post there.

  12. TEKNA2007 says:

    @christov #85:

    Studies have shown that the executive portions of the cortex are not fully developed until the mid-20s

    Yeah, and I read it’s even later for geeks. Big brains take longer to develop, or something like that. You have to put up with being clumsy and socially inept for longer, but you end up with a higher-functioning sophisticated brain that’s based on the adult world as you see it when you finally wake up to social awareness.

    Instead of being one of those people stuck forever in mental high school. /me shudders

  13. Pipenta says:

    Teresa,

    You’re back! Hurrah! That’s a wonderful thing indeed.

    (You might have been back for a while and I just missed seeing your comments.)

    I’m going to be sans computer for a couple of weeks, in intraweb withdrawal. Nice to know I have one less thing to fret about.

    I hope you are feeling much better.

  14. Jake0748 says:

    Leogobbo – many (maybe most?) of us here in the States have the same questions. Its a sad time here in the US. We used to be the example of freedom to the world (including the freedoms to be weird, naive, goofy, silly and contrarian). But, alas, no more. Its a memory.

  15. Anonymous says:

    The appalling thing here isn’t so much the initial police over-reaction, that’s gonna happen if you have ramped up security (theatre). What is appalling is the subsequent refusal to back down and to keep on dragging the stupid thing through court. Why oh why couldn’t they just have checked her out, found her harmless, and at most given her a bit of a warning about wearing odd things in airports?

    Why oh why are the authorities so scared of admitting that they might have made a mistake? Do they think the faith of the public will come crashing down and there will be anarchy in the streets?

    I make mistakes all the time. I admit it, and apologize, and don’t drag it out for years and years and force innocent people to apologize to me.

  16. grimc says:

    You also have an inalieable right to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater.

    No, you don’t.

    Oliver Wendell Holmes said that the 1st would not protect somebody for *falsely* yelling “Fire!” in a theater. Or, to put it in modern terms, the 1st would not protect somebody for *falsely* yelling “OMGSUICIDEBOMBSWEATSHIRT!” in an airport.

  17. Sekino says:

    Oh, so sorry FuneralPudding!! (Thanks Geekman)

    I was getting so worried about seeing the non-sarcastic versions of that opinion popping up on this thread that I failed to recognize the tongue-in-cheek in this case.

    I’m still worried though…

  18. Loozrboy says:

    Has anyone seen the text of this “apology” she had to issue to Boston? I suppose it’s just gathering dust in the press release inbox of a few indifferent media outlets. I kinda hope it just says “Dear Boston, I’m sorry you’re so retahded”.

    Anyway, glad to hear this story finally had an almost-happy ending.

  19. Fatal Bert says:

    #44, many suicide bomb trigger mechanisms are designed to go off if you let go of the trigger. So if you suspect a suicide bomber, the first thing you should do is grab their hands and make sure they don’t open their fist.

  20. GeekMan says:

    SEKINO: This is a perennial problem. We need a tag for the next version of HTML. ;-)

  21. angusm says:

    Notice how even after they’ve terrified and arrested this young woman for no reason, there was no one in the Boston PD who had the basic common sense, decency or courage to say “OK, we’re done here. Miss, go home and don’t bring strange gizmos to airports in future. The rest of you, in my office now.” The whole affair could have ended on the traffic island. Instead, they have to take it all the way to trial and when they can’t get a conviction on the ‘hoax device’ charge, they use the “We can always get you for this” charge of “disorderly conduct”.

    It could be that doing the sane thing and recognizing that they had overreacted would have exposed them to liability, so that someone cynically decided that making a bullshit charge stick would be the cheapest way out. It could be that in our brave new national era of paranoia, unintentionally frightening hysterical people who watch too much television is already an offense. But either way, if you want to fix a broken system, those might be good starting points.

  22. Engine Here says:

    t s jst ntrly t fr ftchd tht n ngnr frm MT cld nt th ptntl fr dsstr n wrng tht t n rprt.

    f crs sh s gng t snd nncnt n hr wn ntrvw. n th thr hnd, lv n Bstn, nd rmmbr rdng bt ths whl chrd. Th ccnts frm th ppl tht wr thr dffr frm th ccnt Str s dmttng t, nd ppl nd t ndrstnd tht.

    Hw mny ppl wld dmt t stnt lk ths f thy knw thr wld b srs lgl rprcssns? Hsn’t nyn spkn t crmnl? Thy’r lwys nncnt.

    nd t tht, ddn’t nyn vr s Mt th Prnts?

    ” sd t’s <>nt lk hv bmb…”

    “Y STLL SD ‘BMB’ N N RPLN!!!”

    hh, whn Bn Stllr ws fnny… Gd tms.

  23. Sekino says:

    However, I am a little surprised at the single mindedness with which today’s commenters are defending Ms. Simpson’s actions. The prevailing sense here seems to be that no rational observer should have been worried at the sight of the object pasted to Ms. Simpson’s sweater. This, folks, is ridiculous.

    Of course you and I know LEDs, batteries, and breadboards from a bomb, but regular people don’t, nor is it fair for makers to expect them to, any more than doctors expect us to know a hemangioma from a staph infection. The popular conception of a bomb is a device with lights, exposed wires, and batteries. This much is fact – we can discuss whether or not this is a realistic conception, but I don’t think this fact is up for debate. So we have established that Ms. Simpson was wearing an unusual device which, to many uneducated observers, would resemble a bomb.

    I see your point. And I think most people defending Star’s position believed that it was acceptable for the uneducated observer to question Star about the object of concern.

    I guess we have a choice between two schools of thought:

    Accepting that, at times, we might all be confronted by the unknown: technologies we have never seen, equipment we are not familiar with, elements we are prejudiced against. We can accept to be educated by people with different or further knowledge than our own instead of being fearful without evidence of real threat.

    OR

    We can decide that the world is now too dangerous a place to bother venture beyond our respective lack of knowledge: Shoot first, ask questions later.

    I rather stick with the former.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Well why doesn’t she sell these shirts online? Hell, I’ll bet she can sell the flower thing on Ebay. Turn this around, the worldwide marketing has already been done for her. Sell light-up shirts, make them look like bigger assholes by showing the world what her art is and let everyone wear one.

  25. Church says:

    “So this stuff goes back a long way. Don’t ever wear a tee shirt that says “DANGER 10,000 OHMS”.”

    WTF?

  26. GeekMan says:

    “I on the other hand, live in Boston…”

    Oh…

  27. MotherBear says:

    I am hoping I can give Star some perspective. I worked for TSA for 8 months at the Salt Lake International Airport and I quit in disgust because of how overblown and paranoid everyone was! Shortly after training, one of my coworkers refused to assist a woman who was the obvious victim of severe burns because she claimed the woman must be some kind of suicide bomber. Anyway, Star you’ve obviously gained quite a bit of maturity from the immature, goon like behavior of the authorities in Boston. I’m so sorry you had to go through all of that but glad also that you understand that the craziness after 9/11 has taken hold of the national psyche and needs to be put to rest. It is inherently unsafe just to get out of bed in the morning, let alone asking any government official to protect us and this is a prime example of abuse. Take care and if you ever want to travel to Salt Lake City, you can stay with me!

  28. powermatic says:

    <>“Thnk ‘ll wndr dwn t th mjr mtrpltn lwys-n-hgh-lrt-swrmng-wth-scrty rprt tdy wrng my fvrt swtshrt-y knw, th n wth th rd flrs gld t t. Shldn’t b prblm-t’s rt!”

    *Flsh nd nv brdrng n stpdty

    r

    *Rctn ws lttl mr thn sh’d hpd fr

    Y b th jdg….

  29. Unanimous Cowherd says:

    So does this mean I shouldn’t wear my WiFi Detector T-Shirt from ThinkGeek?
    Cuz it isn’t a bomb (but is it DA BOMB). See, it does have blinken lights and a battery pack.

  30. Mojave says:

    “”The Boston police need to be sent back to college for a few years.””

    HAHAHAHA!!!! You’re making the mistake of assuming these clowns ever went beyond the 10th grade. College? That’s for them fancy-shmancy “elite” types…

  31. John A Arkansawyer says:

    Sekino @ 119:

    You don’t have to build a case against the police when you’re a defendant. They have to build a case against you and prove it. That’s what makes Star Simpson pleading out so disappointing. You are in a much stronger position as a defendant in criminal court than in most other places in the legal system when you are in a first amendment type of fight. Even today, it’s the likeliest place to win.

    Somewhere there’s a failure in this case, and it’d be wrong to lay it on Star Simpson.

    There should have been some form of support for her, but where was it? There should have been some more aggressive legal strategy, but where was it?

    That is the part that affects all of us.

  32. Kevin Kenny says:

    America used to be a nation of equality. Now privileged folk like Star get to run roughshod over the rights of the rest of Americans. Look at it. She was smart. She could have foreseen the panic she’d cause. The baggage agent wasn’t smart. Neither were the cops. Neither were the bureaucrats. They didn’t have any choice, they had to respond as they did because they weren’t smart.
    Star owed it to them and to society not to freak them out. That’s equality – those with the ability have to support those without.

    America used to be a nation of freedom. Now privileged folk like Star get to tie up an airport for an entire morning – destroying people’s freedom to travel.

    America used to be a nation of rights. Now privileged people like Star ruin the rights of everyone else – we all get strip searched because someone like HER might have brought something frightening aboard.

    It’s not just Star, either. It’s all those diabetics. How dare they not know that bringing syringes on a plane is going to scare people? They should just stay home. It’s those pilots. They could crash the plane at any moment! How dare they allow someone that much power? As a special privilege, yet, after all those years of flight training? Aren’t we all supposed to be equal?

    Waaaaah! Who’s going to protect us from all these smart people?

    Why do you all insist on defending Star in the name of freedom? She’s the one who’s destroying it. Why do you all hate America?

  33. djmaxdare says:

    This all makes me sick to my stomach, particularly the “blame the victim” mentality of some of the comments.
    Any claims that she somehow deserved this shitstorm strike me as cowardly and petty.

  34. danegeld says:

    It’s sick that the whole thing dragged on for a year when it should have been clear there was no malice more or less immediately they calmed down and talked to her.

  35. Jake0748 says:

    no, no, NO, Eicos…

    “The prevailing sense here seems to be that no rational observer should have been worried at the sight of the object pasted to Ms. Simpson’s sweater.”

    It was perfectly reasonable for someone to be worried about the object. But worrying and making a federal case are not the same thing. Some thought, some questions, some answers and maybe a little cursory investigation would have been the appropriate response.

  36. Anonymous says:

    I don’t blame the police for detaining her. They’re a bunch of blockheads who would have been criminals if they didn’t graduate from high school. What blows me away is the lust with which the state pursured this girl.

    She didn’t try to pass security, she was leaving the area when she was arrested, the experts knew that her devices were totally begnin. The whole thing was a witch hunt so “the people protecting us” could prove that they were tough on terrorism.

    It’s a microcosim of what happened after 9/11. Panic, fear then the someone with an impressive job title has their own agenda, ignores the truth and goes on the attack with trumped up claims. And you know what… they got away with it AGAIN!

  37. matt joyce says:

    @engine here

    last i checked… you could still walk around in public with your electronic devices. regardless of what the crazy cnn / 24 addicts thought of it.

    and as proven… there was no actual criminal offense she could be charged with.

    she committed no crime. she simply was not aware that people would fail to do their jobs properly. you and I in our cynical worlds may have seen the possibility for this scenario playing out… but the MIT campus is worlds apart from the reality in which we live (I visited friends on campus several times in the early 2000s… it’s a very strange and awesome place).

    MIT is an open environment that encourages tinkering and creativity. You spend a few months surrounded by some of the most creative and brilliant minds our nation has being trained to let your creativity shine…

    and guess what, when your headed to the airport you aren’t going to think anything of a light up hoodie you happen to own… along with a hundred other little projects you’ve done. It’s not outside the norm for you.

    AND EVEN IF IT WAS. It’s still your right to do so. And, it’s the police departments responsibility to respect and protect those rights… even from crazy airport employees.

  38. wylkyn says:

    People equate this with yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater. I don’t see it that way. To me, it’s more like saying “I think that guy should be fired!” in a crowded theater, and then having someone in the next row misinterpret your statement and start telling everyone that you said that there was a fire, thus causing a panic. Should you be prosecuted for something like that? When the judge asks you why you yelled “Fire!” and you provide evidence that you didn’t say that, should you be punished anyway?

    I don’t understand why people think this girl is at fault. Is there some sort of “No blinking lights” law that I’m not aware of? Are terrorists now wearing flashing diodes on their clothing to show their concealed weapons? Are we all now going to be held accountable for the rash assumptions of others?

  39. christov says:

    Ah, yes, Engine Here didn’t mean it was obvious from the evidence that Star knew this would cause a reaction, he meant it was obvious from his special superpowers of insight, and because he read all about it (in the paranoid early versions) when it was happening. I always say, people believe what they want to believe, and EH has a personal investment in thinking that people only get what’s coming to them (paging Dr. Panglos!)

    He obviously doesn’t really remember what it was like to be 20. Most people do very stupid things at that age and have no idea at the time that it’s stupid. Studies have shown that the executive portions of the cortex are not fully developed until the mid-20s. Other studies have shown that teenagers will misread social cues in ways that are unimaginably wrong to adults.

    So just keep on believing, EH. You might also be interested in $50 million that is just sitting in a bank in the Congo, because the owner died in a plane crash and this guy just needs help getting it out of the country, see…

  40. GeekMan says:

    “…and showing an interest in science, be it electronic design, or chemistry shouldn’t subject you to harassment for any reason. It hurts our nation as a whole. And it’s a violation of a persons basic inalienable rights without valid cause.”

    It’s funny you should point that out. The DOJ’s anittrust case against Microsoft frequently garnered criticism from the right in the format of: “How can the USA intellectually cannibalize itself by attacking its best and brightest?”

    Star Simpson is one of America’s best and brightest, showing an interest in science and technology. By attacking that, and by coddling the fearful and ignorant, America’s society is intellectually cannibalizing itself.

    We’re only 50 years away from: “He shirt is blinking! She’s a witch!”

  41. Engine Here says:

    dn’t thnk nyn s rgng tht th trprs wr vrzls n thr “prst f jstc,” bt r w mssng th fct tht n n s t blm bt hr, fr dng smthng sh knw ws stpd.

    nd pls, pls, pls stp mkng hr mrtyr.

    “Thy jst rrstd hr bcs sh’s dffrnt!”

    “Sh’s mssndrstd!!!”

    “Sh ws xprssng hrslf nd ws lbld XYZ!!!”

    “W lv n plc stt!!!”

    ngh.

    wld b wrrd f sh <>wsn’t t th vry lst tkn n fr qstnng fr rnnng rnd n rprt wth wht lks lk bmb tpd t hr chst.

  42. GeekMan says:

    “I would be worried if she wasn’t at the very least taken in for questioning for running around an airport with what looks like a bomb taped to her chest.”

    How does it look like a bomb?

    How did the ATHF LED ads look like bombs?

    Perhaps your IPOD looks like a bomb?

    Maybe the average dimwit can be blamed for not being able to distinguish the difference between a bomb and what is essentially a TOY, but for trained law enforcement officers, there is no excuse.

    Police should have realized the mistake and defused the situation immediately; apart from everything Star did, that was THEIR responsibility, and they failed.

  43. djmaxdare says:

    @36–Maybe we could stop making her a martyr if you agree to stop making her a straw man, ENGINE HERE.

    And how did she have “what looks like a bomb taped to her chest?” We should all be so lucky that suicide bombers start wearing bombs on the outside of their clothing. Powered by tiny batteries. Advertised with LEDs.

  44. Anonymous says:

    Wouldn’t a suicide bomber want to hide their bomb so as not to get picked up by 40 cops?

    Maybe the cops shouldn’t be so suspicious of strange looking people. After all, a rolling suitcase full of explosives wouldn’t have freaked out that crazy ticket agent, but could pack a far greater punch than most anything you can tape to a hoodie.

  45. angryhippo says:

    #32: “This all makes me sick to my stomach, particularly the “blame the victim” mentality of some of the comments.”

    h cm n… Sh s *nt* vctm. Sh chs t wr smthng tht ws crtn t prvk rspns frm scrty prsnnl. Ws s n vr-rctn? Dpnds n wh y sk. Th nly thng sh s vctm f s xtrmly pr jdgmnt.

  46. Eicos says:

    @Jake, I already said that I think the US attorney acted in error. It’s Ms. Simpson’s responsibility that I am more interested in talking about, snc t sms tht s fw f th thrs r.

    @Sekino,

    “I guess we have a choice between two schools of thought:

    Accepting that, at times, we might all be confronted by the unknown: technologies we have never seen, equipment we are not familiar with, elements we are prejudiced against. We can accept to be educated by people with different or further knowledge than our own instead of being fearful without evidence of real threat.

    OR

    We can decide that the world is now too dangerous a place to bother venture beyond our respective lack of knowledge: Shoot first, ask questions later.

    I rather stick with the former.”

    I couldn’t agree more. I am a firm believer in the supreme importance of an open society, and I am consistently and violently opposed to anything which interferes with it, i.e. airport security theater, censorship, illegal wiretapping, national security letters, etc. That said, I think that everybody would agree that we need some kind of legal framework for prohibiting acts which cause massive panic and disruption to citizens. And I think that Ms. Simpson’s actions – walking into a high-security area while wearing a device she should have known resembled a bomb – fall afoul of any conceivable such framework, even if I don’t think that our current framework is that great.

  47. danegeld says:

    I think it’s time to get copper tube sewn onto a green T-shirt with curly wires tracing the different letters together.

    “ceci ne pas une pipe-bomb”

  48. donr52 says:

    I can come down on either side of the debate about what Star should or shouldn’t have worn to Logan. She was 19 and in college. That speaks volumes, whether the college was MIT or Bunker Hill Community College.

    But regardless, it’s now obvious that she committed nothing like a crime. Rather, the state decided to make an example of her. This I find unforgiveable. I hate the steady erosion of our civil liberties visited on us during both the Clinton and Bush administrations. And I despise the growing and terribly misguided inclination on the part of too many of us to give those liberties away in exchange for an unattainable security.

    At the same time, I lived in Boston most of my life. I shared the horrible sense of guilt all Bostonians felt when terrorists strolled onto planes at Logan, our airport, and used them to kill thousands of people. MassPort and the State Police still carry that scar, I promise you. Their quickness to act is understandable in that context [And if you've ever seen the MA State Police uniform, you instinctively grasp that it's an army of meatheads with a chip on its
    organizational shoulder].

    So in the end a police force with a historically understandable hair trigger overreacts to an act by a college kid, innocent or otherwise.

    What I don’t get – and what isn’t really explained in the transcript in a way that jives with the way the justice system in MA really works – is how this whole waste of everyone’s time was allowed to go on for so long. I don’t understand how no one in either the State Police or the District Attorney’s office had the sense or decency to call a halt to this stupidity that same day. And when the prosecution insisted on making a case of it, why in the world didn’t this girl’s attorneys go public? Did she really hire the only criminal lawyers in the Commonwealth who, in the face of a baseless case, roll over for the prosecutor and have no instinct for publicity? For an entire year???

    None of the things that happened to her after she was grabbed by the state police make sense to me. And that just raises more questions, none of which are answered in this transcript.

  49. meelar says:

    @ 36–Just because she probably should not have worn the shirt to the airport does not mean that “no one is to blame but her”. The cops should have recognized that she was not a threat fairly easily, and given her at most a stern warning. The fact that they instead dragged the whole process out is inexcusable. There were at least two unwise decisions here, and Star’s is by far the smaller one.

  50. matt joyce says:

    @engine here

    Here in the United States, we accept the differences in others. Be it skin color, religious, or even their choice in attire. We consider it a strength.

    Your prejudice is not tolerated here. And your ignorance is not welcome. Please think long and hard about that. Your freedoms are granted only so far as they do not deny another theirs. And right now, you are advocating against the basic inalienable rights of a fellow citizen based on your own self righteous prejudice.

    Regardless of the “environment” or “heightened circumstances”, we live in a country of laws. Laws that protect all of us. When we give up on abiding by those laws… we lose that protection.

    I for one don’t want to lose my rights to pursue my dreams. I don’t want to lose my right to live free, in a country of laws. I like this country the way it was.

    I wish you and people in agreement with you would stop trying so hard to destroy the united states. Please, consider if you will what America stands for. And how you are utterly opposed to it.

  51. GeekMan says:

    “The only thing she is guilty of is somewhat poor judgement.”

    I fixed it for you.

  52. TEKNA2007 says:

    @eicos #99:

    I am consistently and violently opposed

    Pretty sure you mean “consistently and vigorously opposed”. Because, you know, you wouldn’t want that to be misinterpreted.

  53. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for the interview and for posting the transcript.

    I’m continuously fascinated by the overreaction and hyperbole surrounding stupid incidents such as this. Even more so, it bothers me that no one ever claims responsibility (I know, a silly wish in the face of modern America). I don’t mean Star, I mean the people whose unnecessary paranoia promulgate the attitude of fear that results in wasteful, hurtful incidents like this. Inasmuch as the UK may be steps ahead of us on the way to a true surveillance state, I remain unconvinced that we’re that far behind, particularly when it comes to overzealous police action.

    As for pointing fingers and accusations of blame, I place it squarely on the state and police. Once their experts reviewed the electronics, they knew they were dealing with an inconsequential piece of electronics. They knew that and *still* treated her as they did. The initial treatment may or may not have been warranted, but to continue treating her as a criminal in the face of knowing she was not – that’s not right. She made no threat. There was no overt indication of malice or purposeful malfeasance. (I love that word.) And yet she’s the criminal for their overreaction.

    We shouldn’t have to be afraid of the police. We shouldn’t have to be afraid of being branded a criminal for someone else’s clear misinterpretation and unreasonable fear. And yet, we are and clearly today we need to be. I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.

    I wish Star the best in moving on with her life. I can only imagine how this incident has affected her, her friends and her family. Hopefully she can get back on track and make some headway. It’s sad when individuals pay the price for other peoples’ stupidity.

  54. Daemon says:

    On thing I find rather odd… If the police honestly believed she had a suicide bomb on her, isn’t running up and grabbing her hands sort of insane?

    That said, Boston’s judicial system has pretty much established itself as being run by idiots.

  55. evilgalblues says:

    I think she was within her rights to wear the shirt and that the reaction was extreme and excessive. I sometimes carry a backpack in public and I expect to be harassed at stores but I also expect my rights to not be violated. What bugs me is this…
    Everyone keeps dismissing the short bus candidate that screamed BOMB in the first place as a stupid average person. Working in an airport during our current terrorism panic attack, wouldn’t she be trained more to know what would actually be a questionable device? Isn’t it actually part of her responsibility to be better informed than that? There were so many breakdowns in the how this situation was handled it should be positively embarrassing for those involved.

  56. Eicos says:

    @Tekna, I meant what I wrote. And kindly stuff your snide insinuations. If you think I support a police state jst bcs hv th nrv t cll y t n yr smplstc grpthnk, then at least say it to my face.

  57. Antinous says:

    Manners, please.

  58. djmaxdare says:

    ANGRYHIPPO–Did she deserve two years of legal battles, then? Did she deserve to have her life wrecked by this? For some flashing lights?

    I don’t think she deserved anything, though I also don’t think she should have been surprised, in hindsight, that her actions provoked reactions. Someone who jogs alone, at night, through a really bad part of town, shouldn’t be surprised if the night ends badly. But that person doesn’t deserve the bad consequences, and that person is clearly still a victim.

    The police at Logan started by doing their duty. Their duty also should have led them to diffuse the situation quickly. It should have been over in two hours, not two years.

  59. Eicos says:

    Apologies, BBers. Once my hackles are raised, I sometimes forget I’m not on reddit.

  60. tetsujin2045 says:

    Sh shld b pnchd n th fc fr dng smthng s stpd.

  61. christov says:

    The lawyerly advice not to talk to the press is dumb in cases like this. Lawyers think that all significant facets of the case will be solved in a court of law and don’t want complications arising from public statements. But a case like this is driven in large part by the court of public opinion. A good pr professional would have had a press conference the first day and made the police look justified in their concern but ridiculous in their continued overreaction. The sympathy generated would have made this case much shorter. As it was, public opinion made it impossible for anyone in authority to say the emperor has no clothes.

  62. permawash says:

    So, I’m glad to hear her story.

    However, I am shocked that anyone can utter this statement in this decade:

    STAR: I didn’t know until after I got arrested that Logan was quite so hyper about security. I learned afterwards…

    Seriously? This is surprising – to an educated person? Name an airport that should be more hyper about security.

    [...crickets...]

  63. matt joyce says:

    TETSUJIN2045, sock it to you for a comment so stupid.

  64. TEKNA2007 says:

    eicos, i apologize to you. i was making a joke out of the form of your response when i should have been sticking to the substance. you’ve been thoughtfully and sincerely addressing this important topic. again, i apologize.

  65. mdh says:

    Yeah, who gave Chicken Little a job at the Logan information desk?

    People who are afraid of ‘the public’ should not work with them.

  66. Anonymous says:

    I remember looking up Star’s stuff on instructables and ended up learning about and brewing kombucha. It’s been great for my wife’s health – after pelvic radiation she needs lots of probiotics. So I’ve got that going for me.

    1-31-07
    Never Forget!

    Engine Here, haven’t you ever spoken to a cop? Everyone they look at is always guilty. Take your police state attitude out of the USA. I suggest China, where the state shares your beliefs.

  67. djmaxdare says:

    I stand by my earlier opinion, for what it’s worth, that the “blame the victim” comments are cowardly. It’s the ages-old attempt to insulate oneself from another’s misfortune:
    -Star was stupid, and I am not, as evidenced by my armchair condemnation of her. Therefore this sort of thing could never happen to me.
    –If I blame it all on her, then I don’t have to face the fact that our justice system, sometimes, gets out of control. That it hunts witches.

  68. solarwolfman says:

    The baggage person was an idiot (or at least has a seriously diminished deductive faculty). Seriously, how many terrorists wear a ‘bomb’ on their ‘shirt’ while politely asking for directions? Isn’t concealment the norm? It’s practically a Monty Python sketch.

  69. matt joyce says:

    maybe it’s just me, but led’s are looking to replace light bulbs… and in many cases already have. Walking down the street I can spot probably 6 million LEDs in a single city block. Wires? Yes we have all seen wires. And most home owners have even worked with them at some point. Certainly we’ve all plugged in an appliance… probably with leds in it.

    so the question becomes… do we have a reasonable expectation that people can identify an led and some wires… and not think.. “OMFG BOMB”.

    I’d say it’s pretty reasonable to assume most everyone in our country has had the experience and preparation to make this distinction. And anyone who fails to do so, is probably mentally handicapped in some fashion.

  70. Sekino says:

    #114

    I would also like if Xeni could track down the other parties involved. Unfortunately, I have a funny feeling that they would all unite under the ‘no comment’ banner because looking at their actions, they don’t think peasants like us deserve any explainations or clarifications regarding our rights.

    Another thing that angers me is that Star probably was forced to choose a deal and apologize because I assume building a case against a city/police dept. is extremely expensive. Being a student, I seriously doubt she had the ressources to pay a lawyer throughout a long and difficult case. Plus the stress of undertaking such a case can greatly affect one’s quality of life.

    It has been years since I stopped using the word ‘democracy’ because the bulk of the people, the lower and middle classes, have no real power aside from voting once every few years.

    Plutocracy is more accurate: Power and influence to those with money. The day someone with more ressources comes after you, you are a bug that’s ‘lucky to be in a cell instead of the morgue’. Don’t kid yourself.

  71. Sean Grimm says:

    Sadly, I must have missed the media coverage for this story a year ago since this is my first time hearing about it. Although I do remember hearing about the Aqua Teens “bomb scare.” I wonder how long it’ll take for America to get back to not suspecting everyone slightly different of being a terrorist–or if we can ever get there. I think it is a flaw in the law enforcement/justice system that she actually had to plead out instead of having the case simply thrown out of court by a judge, but at least she didn’t go to jail for something so innocuous.

  72. Eicos says:

    Tekna, I appreciate the apology. I owe you one too, for my uncivil response.

  73. Anonymous says:

    Just a quick note on the supposed intelligence of MIT students:

    (1) These people are very, very smart.

    (2) The mere fact that you are intelligent does NOT mean that you have any idea of how to function as part of society. The vast majority of MITers that I’ve met have little grasp of what is acceptable or normal in the outside world. I find it perfectly reasonable that an intelligent MIT student would think that it is normal to wear a breadboard on ones chest at an airport and not give it a second thought.

    GIVE HER A BREAK. She had no idea that she was doing anything wrong, even though it is clear to most of the rest of us that she never should have worn the sweatshirt as it existed at that point.

  74. TEKNA2007 says:

    @ENGINE HERE #36:

    I would be worried if she wasn’t at the very least taken in for questioning for running around an airport with what looks like a bomb taped to her chest.

    Yeah but she wasn’t just taken in for questioning. Questioning followed by release with an informative lecture about the likely consequence of wearing handmade electronics to the airport would have been an *appropriate* response, as other here have asserted. Instead, she was subjected to a lot more than that, over an extended period of time, in a way that had to have made her wonder at times whether she was being cast out by an entire nation, all for the crime of (as she saw it) going to pick up a friend at an airport. That’s nuts.

    @ANONYMOUS #28:

    Well why doesn’t she sell these shirts online? Hell, I’ll bet she can sell the flower thing on Ebay. Turn this around, the worldwide marketing has already been done for her. Sell light-up shirts, make them look like bigger assholes by showing the world what her art is and let everyone wear one.

    Awesome idea! Although I’d vote for the screen-printed non-electronic version. Text: “Creativity is Not a Crime”. I’d buy one! XL, Haynes Beefy-T in hoody-colored dark gray, and please don’t skimp on the sleeves.

  75. Purly says:

    Xeni and BoingBoing, thank you for following up on this. I wondered what had happened to this poor girl.

  76. Anonymous says:

    A person wearing a t-shirt with flashing lights in a place where they could legally carry a firearm without consequences, is mistakenly considered a threat by someone who probably wouldn’t recognise a real explosive device if she saw it, and then violently arrested by a large number of police officers, any one of whom might have been able to recognise that there was no real threat, in a show of force before being dragged though a multi-year legal battle and made to fear for her life by the very people who claim to be protecting people like her, and eventually forced to issue an appology to the people who did this to her. The fact that I no longer find stories like this shocking, or even that much out of the ordinary, is a glaring indictment on everything that America claims to stand for. The terrorists have already won.

  77. FutureNerd says:

    I want to address the idea that Ms. Simpson “should” have known better, that she made a “mistake.” (I’m really preaching to the choir, to clarify a point, but this is addressed as if to someone saying those things.)

    We’re talking about an expediency vs. morality tradeoff here. Everyone gets to choose whether to be a hero or keep their head down. But for someone else to say she should keep her head down is to use “should” to advise against morality. I’m not ready to concede that word for cynics’ use. Even if she says she might do things differently today, we don’t have the right to say she made a mistake, since it is her choice alone how to make that tradeoff.

    Nor is it appropriate to make fun of her “social intelligence,” as if social intelligence amounts to intuiting exactly when powerful figures are likely to act dangerously insane, and she’s laughably behind us clueful citizens. That’s not on my lesson plan or social IQ test.

    Because it is cowardice to cover your head when you have a perfect right to be yourself. It’s soul-killing to spend your life trying to guess people’s worst reactions. If you don’t stand up and be yourself, you’re also not standing up for everyone else. Even if it seems a necessary expedient, adapting to evil still promotes evil, it paves the way. Telling other people to adapt to evil even more so.

    So if your choice of battles is to retreat, go ahead. Just don’t tell us you’re smarter than the hero, she’s making mistakes, or she should imitate you.

    P.S. Star, I mean it, if this whole thing hadn’t happened I still would’ve wanted to shake your hand, you’re a hero for art, making, electronics, fun, friendship, beauty, and teaching others all of the above. I live in the Boston area and I don’t know what to say. Everyone should wear the Improvising Electronic Devices is Not a Crime tee shirt with the star on the battery, though :)

  78. angryhippo says:

    #45- I agree with you that it should have been handled in a conversation with the PD, possibly expecting a disturbing the peace fine. The following legal troubles? No. But at what level is she responsible for her extremely (yes, Geekman, extremely) poor judgment? thnk ths s n xmpl f n ndvdl dt rnnng nt n dt brcrcy. Nthng smrt cms t f t. f t ws t prvk rspns, gl chvd. f t ws t mk sttmnt gnst scrty thtr, b prprd fr t t g hrrbly sdwys. f sh hnstly hd n d tht t cld nd ths wy, wll, nvty sn’t lwys vrt gss…

  79. Church says:

    “Oh come on… She is *not* a victim. She chose to wear something that was certain to provoke a response from security personnel. ”

    And yet, strangely, it didn’t provoke a response by them until some dimwitted ticket agent freaked out.

    Anybody know *her* name, BTW?

  80. Jake0748 says:

    Thanks for publishing the transcript, Xeni. No offense, but that Skype interview was pretty distracting and hard to watch. So this made it much easier to get a handle on how she feels and what she’s thinking.

  81. Nephlabobo says:

    1) People who are wearing bombs are not going to advertise it by wearing flashy LED lights.

    2)The simple *fact* is that the police (and the mayor with his distasteful comments) over reacted to a situation that could and should have been cleared up simply and easily.

    3) Anyone who says she deserved it deserves to have the same happen to them, so they can see what it’s actually like.

  82. Chris Tucker says:

    Comments calling her stupid and that she should have known better, et al, etc, in 3… 2… 1…

  83. matt joyce says:

    “keep your head down” “don’t be a pain in the ass to the rest of us, by exercising your freedoms.” And certainly… don’t hold people accountable for their mistakes.

    That’s the american way.

  84. Anonymous says:

    Would I have worn that in the airport?

    Absolutely not.

    But I am terrified of the average person, who is at best a dangerous and unpredictable animal. I wouldn’t give them a shred of credit for recognizing the difference between a piece of tin foil and a bomb.

    That being said, the rest of the world does not owe the pureeing of reality into baby food for the average troglodyte. I’m a psych major and I instantly recognized it as some wires on a breadboard. The problem is that people sit in front of their idiot-box all day absorbing fanciful programming without having a way to differentiate what they see from reality. Like many have pointed out, it would be extremely kind of terrorists to advertise bombs with LEDs on their shirts.

    The police will rarely admit their mistakes, and I am not surprised that it has dragged on this long. They could have handled this much better, but again, would you expect them to?

  85. GeekMan says:

    I think it’s important to reiterate that Star was NOT at the airport to board a plane, or even to enter the terminal. She was simply there to meet a friend.

  86. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    Much better, Pipenta; and please come back as soon as you can.

  87. leogobbo says:

    Reading some of the comments here, sitting on a chair in a third world country, is definitely surreal. To live in a country in which many people truly live in a state of fear of terrorist attacks is almost incomprehensible for me.

    I do not mean to sound offensive, but *maybe* this is a result of several US government decisions that points toward being a country of war.

    The way I see it, it is totally and absolutely obvious that the police’s reaction on the day was over the top, albeit understandable. But to continue with the charges after everything has been explained? I am unable to believe that. What happened to the democratic state of law? What happened to “innocent, until proven otherwise”? What happened to common sense …. ?

  88. Anonymous says:

    Here is a commercial I made shortly after the news about Star Simpson’s arrest.

    http://www.youtube.com/results?search_type=&search_query=not.a.bom&aq=f

  89. grikdog says:

    Who’s the airheaded flibbertigibbet in baggage claim who “glazed over with fear”? That’s where the real trouble lies. Whatever happened to the ideals of personal courage and personal responsibility? Is Kung Fu only real in the movies? And cops in a pack? Lord. I still remember Kent State, and this poor kid is lucky not to have martyred in the cause of an innocence this world never did support. She joins Hypatia, Galileo, Giordano Bruno and Charles Darwin in the eye of a firestorm in the Western soul. What’s our problem?

  90. minTphresh says:

    engine here, you sound angry and dickish. do you need a hug? here, i am sending you a virtual bearhug. hope that makes you feel a lil betta. now run along and play!

  91. Guysmiley says:

    Ugh. The TSA needs to be abolished. A few quotes come to mind.

    Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

    WAR IS PEACE
    FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
    IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

  92. Engine Here says:

    @Mtt Jyc

    Thnks fr smltnsly sggstng tht “dny” thr ppl’s frdms whl sggstng crtl my frdm f spch. Yr hypcrsy ws dlly ntd.

    Thnk y fr ls ncntng thr rc nd rlgn r nvlvd n ths n ny wy shp r frm. ‘m nt ntrly sr whr tht cm frm, bt thnks fr th nfndd ssmptn tht m bgt f ny knd.

    STR: “… cn s hw cmmn pctr f lctrncs cld ld t n nrsnbl rctn tht s vry strng. Ys, cn ndrstnd why sh ws grppd wth fr nd clld th plc…

    STR: ” ws thnkng t ws cld dy. t ws swtshrt. f ‘d sn my wrk thrgh thr ys, n, t wldn’t hv md ny sns t wr t. Bt ddn’t s t tht wy.

    Ws sh mstrtd by th plc? Wtht qstn. Dd sh brng ths pn hrslf? thnk ts bvs tht sh knw t ws gng t prvk rctn, nd n xtrmly nccptbl n t tht.

    N n s dnyng nyn’s drms, n n s spllng ht spch. f sh dmttd sh ws lkng t prvk rctn, thn thy wld hv hd rsn t fllw p n hx dvc chrgs, s t mks prfct sns fr hr t b nv bt th rctn sh ws gng t prvk, bcs thy <>wld b kn t yllng FR n thtr.

  93. Anonymous says:

    As another reader from a third world country, I can’t believe that this case even made it out of the airport! It is so clear to anyone that the police blew it completely out of proportion, and the justice system should have known better!

    But then, the US justice system is no stranger to miscarriages…. http://www.wm3.org/splash.php

  94. Takuan says:

    You are NOT to over-do. You are surrounded by a network of love.

    Regarding Star: she is a victim of a struggle that long pre-dates the Warofterra.

  95. Engine Here says:

    Jst t b clr:

    “STR: ws thnkng t ws cld dy. t ws swtshrt. f ‘d sn my wrk thrgh thr ys, n, t wldn’t hv md ny sns t wr t. Bt ddn’t s t tht wy.”

    Thn:

    “STR: Hm. Tht’s gd d. Myb s. Thr ctns sm prtty rrtnl t m, cn’t mk gd gsss.

    S sh dmts t ws stpd t wr t, nd cn ndrstnd th kn jrk rctn t wrng t t n rprt, vn thgh sh ltr clls th ctns “rrtnl.”

    spps tht jst bcs sh sw t n hr wn ys s “rt” whl knwng fll wll tht t wsn’t smrt thng t wr, w shld ll “fl fr hr.”

    Hw cn nyn b tht nv?

    n smmry:
    ” knw fll wll tht wht m dng s gng t b msndrstd, bt myslf dn’t s prblm, s ‘m dng t nywy. Thn ftr ppl hv th rctn cn ttlly jstfy, ‘ll pndr fr sympthy nywy.”

    Gv.M..Brk

  96. Anonymous says:

    Yay Star!

    I saw you walking across MIT’s campus once last winter. I was about to stop and wish you well, but I thought you were probably getting too much of that as it was. Sorry to hear my fellow perambulists have been so quick to judge you! Please know that you’re a sort of hero to some of us out here!

  97. djmaxdare says:

    #54–Doesn’t sound like we’re that far apart, then, HIPPO. Maybe we only disagree about her level of naiveté. I think it’s pretty easy, when you’re immersed in a culture, be it an electronics maker-type culture or almost any other, to lose sight of how you and your interests appear to outsiders. I would accuse Star of “extremely” poor judgment if she had been trying to get past security, though in my wife’s travels as a telescope-building astrophysicist she’s carried far more dangerous-looking things than this hoodie on a plane, with no trouble. Why did my wife have no trouble? Is it because she’s blond-haired and blue-eyed? Is it because she didn’t go through Logan? I have no idea.

  98. ZippySpincycle says:

    Would it be unkind of me to nominate Engine Here for a Bill O’Reilly Special Contributions to Rhetoric Award? Faced with evidence that he had misread Simpson’s comments (twice!), EH promptly changed position to say that her comments were an attempt to make herself sound innocent.

    Try saying this, EH: “Oh. I guess maybe she wasn’t admitting that she knew it would be provocative.”

  99. bruhinb says:

    I can’t understand why she didn’t charge them with wrongful detainment. Pleading guilty to disorderly person charges is the only stupid thing she did, IMO. If Greater Boston lets this happen, then they deserve to live in a police state.

  100. Avram says:

    I’m always amazed at how many people pull out the “fire in a crowded theatre” line with no apparent awareness of its context.

    The context was Schenck v United States, a Supreme Court case involving free speech in wartime. Charles Schenck published and distributed anti-draft leaflets during WW1. The Court unanimously held that the First Amendment did not protect Scheck’s right to do this.

    When Holmes wrote that “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic”, he was actually saying that a person does not have the right to speak freely in wartime if the government decides that his speech is inconvenient.

  101. Peter Swimm says:

    Sh’s stpd nd shdlv knwn bttr.

    • Antinous says:

      Peter Swimm,

      Whether she should have known better is debatable. However, since she’s a student at MIT, I think that we can rule out the notion that she’s stupid.

  102. Paul says:

    @Chris Tucker: I’m sure there will be. For a smart person, she should have had the sense not to wear that sort of thing in an airport, no matter how obviously harmeless it might be to you and I, given how freaking sensitive so many people are these days (especialy at an airport). I’d much rather live in a saner world where people don’t freak out like that, but we don’t.

    HOWEVER…

    Absolutly nothing excuses the way she was treated.

    The only person who has an excuse for over-reacting is the woman at the desk. I wouldn’t expect someone in that kind of job to have the faintest idea what she was looking at. Let’s face it, the only bombs most people have seen are on TV and in movies, and they are rarely acurate.

    Everyone else, the cops, the DAs, the bombsquad etc should have just gone “doh, all a miss-understanding” and let her go with a friendly bit of advice about what not to wear in airports. This should have stopped the moment the cops took her sweatshirt from her and it became obvious that it was harmelss.

    For some reason police, both in the US and the UK, seem to have lost the ability to make common-sense judgments, or just admit when they got something a bit wrong. Witness the shooting of the Brazillian guy on the London Underground: noone has actually taken responsibility, and the Met Police insist on claiming that it was all just a terrible accident (while implying that he was in some way to blame). The same goes for that ad campaign in Boston. Rather than just admit that it was a mistake and ask people not to put things like that up, they go on the offensive and start trying to prosecute anyone involved.

    The most serious crime these days seems to be making a fool of the police.

    Paul

  103. funeralpudding says:

    She absolutely had this coming. Who the hell did she think she was to stand apart from the crowd? How did she possibly think she had the right to wear whatever LED-adorned clothing she wanted? She should have foreseen how stupid most people are and dressed accordingly.

    But seriously, she shouldn’t have agreed to any plea-bargain. The police and judiciary overreacted and continued even when they knew they were wrong. It’s about them saving face without having to admit their over-reaction (especially after it was determined there was no bomb). I join Star – I once thought police were friendly and just wanted to help. Constant recent news events including this and the abhorrent Minneapolis crackdown are proof otherwise. Is it any wonder the police in this country are trying to crackdown on the lawful videotaping of their activities?

  104. matt joyce says:

    Engine Here, she had every inalienable right to do so. And you should be proud to live in a country where those rights are the foundation of our very existence.

  105. TEKNA2007 says:

    @engine here #57:

    I think its obvious that she knew it was going to provoke a reaction, and an extremely unacceptable one at that.

    Why do you think that?

    To me, it seems like she’s talking in retrospect, based on what she knows now.

    Maybe I missed it (only read the transcript, didn’t watch the video) but it seems like at the time she just had in mind wearing a sweatshirt on a coldish day.

  106. Anonymous says:

    Xeni,

    I wish you would do two additional interviews. One with the police official who was in charge of making the arrest and another with the government official (the DA?) who was in charge of pressing charges and presenting the government’s case.

    There are many important questions these people owe the public answers to:

    Is there a law against having electronic devices embedded in a person clothes?

    (I haven’t flown in a long time but there used to be signs at airports saying you can’t have a knife and such things if you go on a plane).
    Are there signs describing what types of electronic devices are banned from airports?

    Are electronic devices banned from planes? I think not, since many travelers bring laptop computers.

    What is the justification for making this arrest?

    What is the justification for pressing charges?

    If I need to transport an electronic device how can I do so without risking arrest?

    How is a hoax device defined?

    My personal opinion is that it is not unreasonable for the police to investigate someone with batteries and wires coming out of their clothes at an airport but I don’t think it was reasonable to arrest and press charges in this case. It would be very interesting to hear from the police and government prosecutor why they thought it was right to do so.

    Are airport empolyees trained to recognize bombs? What does that training include?

    Has this case resulted in any changes in training, or processes in airport security?

  107. Jake0748 says:

    Guysmiley, just a quibble, but the TSA didn’t have anything to do with this. She never tried to enter any of the security areas of the airport. Otherwise, I agree with your sentiment.

    Engine Here – “…(she) can understand the knee jerk reaction to wearing it to an airport, even though she later calls the actions “irrational.”

    So since when is a “knee-jerk” reaction necessarily rational?

  108. backlikeclap says:

    Fantastic interview Xeni!

    Reading this part:

    “I believed that police were nice, friendly folks before last September. And my opinion has changed drastically in that respect.”

    made me start to choke up a bit. Any government which has to contemplate the best ways to kill its citizens has already failed.

  109. Sekino says:

    And yet, strangely, it didn’t provoke a response by them until some dimwitted ticket agent freaked out.

    Anybody know *her* name, BTW?

    Good point: How come she didn’t get her name and photo broadcasted all over American media for her *acute vigilance*?

    She is the one who ‘yelled fire in the movie theater’, after all…

  110. madjo says:

    Getting arrested for wearing a bunch of blinking lights…
    Indeed, America is the ‘Land of the free, home of the BRAVE!’

  111. Sekino says:

    @ Engine Here

    So she admits it was stupid to wear it, and can understand the knee jerk reaction to wearing it to an airport, even though she later calls the actions “irrational.”

    Don’t misinterpret and pick totally different parts of the text:

    Statement one: She admits to understanding that the stupid, untrained airport broad might have not known what LED’s and double-A batteries (or whatnot) are.

    Statement two: What she deemed irrational was to be dragged to jail and to court by dozens of armed officers.

    What she says is that it would have been fair for a single, ignorant low-ranker airport staff to misidentify her equipment/actions but NOT for several law officers and the ‘justice’ system to push this as far as they did.

  112. Anonymous says:

    i have absolutely no problem with the authorities reacting the way they did — if a possible bomb is reported, they are duty bound to act. it reflects well on them, in fact, that they were prepared to act on a very short notice.

    but is it beyond the realm of common sense to expect that as soon as the threat is determined to be unfounded, that the authorities would shrug and say, “thankfully, this is just another false alarm”?

  113. Engine Here says:

    @11

    Y ls hv n nlbl rght t yll “Fr!” n crwdd thtr. Dsn’t mn y shld.

    @12

    Y’r rght, t ws pr chc f wrds wth kn-jrk; ‘ll grnt y tht.

    Hwvr, sn’t smthng rrtnl nhrntly smthng y cn’t ndrstnd nd cnnt b jstfd? Sh gs t MT, sh shld b fmlr wth th cncpt.

  114. Roy Trumbull says:

    In the 1970s when skyjackings were taking place I was asked to ship a circuit board to New York. The field engineer who’d replaced it with another said he’d never be able to take it on his flight home.
    So this stuff goes back a long way. Don’t ever wear a tee shirt that says “DANGER 10,000 OHMS”.

  115. christov says:

    #111 Kevin Kinney
    It’s a mark of how far out discourse is today that I didn’t realize you were being ironic until the part about the diabetics. So many people make a living out of calling up down and vice versa, and so many people believe them, that even ridiculous arguments seem like they might be for real.

  116. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    Engine Here @7-, your comments and your reasoning here have been subpar, and your behavior has been worse.

    Djmaxdare @52:

    I stand by my earlier opinion, for what it’s worth, that the “blame the victim” comments are cowardly. It’s the ages-old attempt to insulate oneself from another’s misfortune:
    -Star was stupid, and I am not, as evidenced by my armchair condemnation of her. Therefore this sort of thing could never happen to me.
    –If I blame it all on her, then I don’t have to face the fact that our justice system, sometimes, gets out of control. That it hunts witches.

    I agree. I’ve seen too many of these “blame the victim” comments, and they do appear to grow out of poor anxiety management.

    Church @57:

    “Oh come on… She is *not* a victim. She chose to wear something that was certain to provoke a response from security personnel.”

    And yet, strangely, it didn’t provoke a response by them until some dimwitted ticket agent freaked out.

    Anybody know *her* name, BTW?

    Indeed. I have noticed that the blame-the-victim claque is arguing that any reasonable person would have viewed Star Simpson’s blinkylight pin with alarm, when in fact hundreds of presumably reasonable people had already seen her, and had no such reaction. It all goes back to that stupid woman who froze in fear, then called the police. She should have known better. So should the police. Instead, they’ve been vindictive because Star Simpson inadvertently frightened them, and they reacted in a foolish way.

    As for the “obvious danger” that any reasonable (albeit stupid) person would perceive in a blinkylight pin:

    Magic Matt’s Brilliant Blinkies
    Salient Information Systems
    Flashing Blinky Lights 1
    Flashing Blinky Lights 2
    Windy City Novelties
    Body Flashing LED Blinky Wholesale
    U-GlowLites
    Blinking Pin
    Lightgod Amazing Illuminated Merchandise
    Sz Wholesale.com
    BongoFlashers.net
    Blinking Badges
    The LED Product Store
    “Kiss Me I’m Irish” sweatshirt
    “No, Rudolph, the Schmidt house!” sweatshirt

    Heck, suburban craft supply stores sell LED kits. That means that if the general population thought LEDs were self-evidently an alarming bit of tech, we’d be constantly hearing about incidents. We don’t. We certainly hear about too many of them; but we don’t hear about enough of them to sustain that hypothesis.

    Geekman @67: Thank you. I’m reassured to know I’m not the only person who’s being reminded of the “if she wore that, she was asking to be raped” mindset.

  117. GeekMan says:

    “Was she mistreated by the police? Without question.”

    This is the defenders’ main point of contention.

    “Did she bring this upon herself? I think its obvious that she knew it was going to provoke a reaction, and an extremely unacceptable one at that.”

    And this is where we disagree. I would be less sympathetic to Star’s predicament had she been trying to board a plane. But she just walked into the airport lobby to ask a question about flight times at the info desk.

    If you want to say that an aiport’s public areas (not the terminals) are a place where one should not wear such a device, where does one draw the line? A police station? A hospital? A school? Out on the street?

    Suddenly we’re starting to split hairs about perfectly reasonable things that people “can” and “can’t” do in public. And that is exactly what provokes such a rbd response from the people defending Star on this thread.

    The government and the police work FOR the people, NOT against them. Therefore, a certain level of responsibility in such matters falls on the shoulders of those authorities. We, on this thread, are in disagreement of how much falls on Star’s shoulders.

    I would argue that even if one can say that Star failed to realize that he homemade LED blinkenlichten would confuse and frighten the dimwit at the info counter, it still falls upon the police to handle the situation in a reasonable way that serves both the public’s and Star’s interests. And I would argue that they failed to serve either appropriately.

  118. GeekMan says:

    Should Star have known better? Perhaps. But who should have known one better is the airport authorities and the Boston police.

    As I said after the Aqua-Teen marketing fiasco, authorities that do not know the difference between a bomb and a blinking LED artwork should not cover their ignorance and ineptitude by persecuting innocent citizens.

    The only reason the Boston legal system has pressed through with these inarguably trumped-up charges of “hoax device” or “disorderly person” (shades of authoritarianism there) is to try and use fear to control Star. They hope that if they keep someone young and spirited rattled enough, that it will prevent that person from pursuing real justice for herself.

    It is a sick perversion of how society should function. The Boston police need to be sent back to college for a few years.

  119. matt joyce says:

    @engine here you seem to keep making a lot of false assumptions. I’d suggest reviewing material several times before commenting on it. I’m not the only one who is getting very confused by your version of this article.

  120. Purly says:

    Engine Here,

    I think your confusion comes from not recognizing the tenses of her wording.

    In this quote, she explains that presently can understand how the confusion began:
    STAR: “…I can see how a common picture of electronics could lead to an unreasonable reaction that is very strong. Yes, I can understand why she was gripped with fear and called the police…”

    In this quote, she explains what she was thinking, when it happened:
    STAR: “I was thinking it was a cold day. It was a sweatshirt. If I’d seen my work through their eyes, no, it wouldn’t have made any sense to wear it. But I didn’t see it that way.”

    It’s fairly clear to me that she didn’t know this would happen at the time. She understands her mistake NOW, but she did not expect it then.

    If you want to argue her intent was to provoke, explain this: why would she have agreed to a plea-bargain then?

    She’s a young girl, with a specialist knowlege. Quite often these individuals are lacking the common sense that comes with age and wisdom and not spending all your time locked in a lab saudering parts together.

    What bothers me is that this is so utterly stifling to future students. There is a fear now and a realization that perhaps their work is not understood or accepted. There is a place for invention in our society, or there should be. The actions of the police on this account are working against the very fundamental engine they should protect.

  121. matt joyce says:

    @engine here

    You actually don’t have a right to yell fire in a crowded theatre as it infringes on others rights.

    But that’s a subtlety and somewhat open to subjective opinion.

    However to address your sentiment I think it’s best to go with this analogy…

    How is it for the Massachusetts’s State Police to scream bomb in a crowded airport when there is no such thing. Or to point a gun at an innocent kid for no reason? Or in their own words… “she’s lucky to be alive”.

    The offenders here are so very obviously the MA Police and the oversight they never had to reckon with.

    Kids will be kids, artists will push the boundaries of social norm. And you know what… that’s perfectly normal. Kids should be allowed to express themselves… and showing an interest in science, be it electronic design, or chemistry shouldn’t subject you to harassment for any reason. It hurts our nation as a whole. And it’s a violation of a persons basic inalienable rights without valid cause.

    That’s just the plain simple facts of the situation. The MA Police are entirely 100% in the wrong. And they should be held accountable.

  122. TheKarpuk says:

    I find it interesting that everytime this comes up, there are comments that amount to, “The way she was dressed, she had it coming!”

    It’s basically saying if you’re weird, or different, or do something that people might not understand, keep your head down because you’re likely to get in trouble.

    I don’t give anyone who misunderstood the shirt any leeway whatsoever. The woman who first raised the alarm could have easily asked her what it was. How hard would it have been to ask some basic questions before raising an alert?

    By assuming people are panicky idiots that need to be avoided or appeased rather than educated, we give them permission to keep on being idiots.

  123. Purly says:

    What I mean is, “sure she gets it now, but she didn’t understand it then”. She wasn’t bringing this on herself, she just made a mistake.

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