Deconstructing the Great ATHF Freak Out of 2007

Dion Dennis, an assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at
Bridgewater State College (MA), has a fascinating analysis of the City of Boston's ATHF panic attack. It's the best explanation I've read so far.

Official and local media reactions constitute a
classic case of what psychologists call "hostile attributional
syndrome." In this syndrome, subjects inappropriately react to
neutral stimuli as if such stimuli were signals of real hostility.

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


Reader comment:

Brad says:

1st: Love your coverage!

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

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

Previously on Boing Boing:

Mooninite on the Haunted Mansion

Stickers: This is engineering, not bomb-making

State of Massachusetts insists on calling ATHF ads "hoax devices"

Boston LED terror scare: a message to the media

Mark on ABC news about Mooninite devices

Fake pipe bombs found in Boston

Video of Mooninite menaces

Boston Mooninite installer arrested

Boston Channel photoshops Mooninite LED signs

Aqua Teen Hunger Force is the Bomb T-Shirts

LED ad campaign ignites terrorism scare in Boston