Turner Broadcasting can go f%#& itself

HT to milo2000, who notes the WBZ story confirming that today’s “suspicious device” scare that shut down parts of I-93 and Storrow Drive — thereby making thousands of drivers sit in stalled traffic for hours — are part of some stupid promotional stunt for “Adult Swim.”

The suspicious devices which forced bomb units to scramble across Boston today were actually magnetic lights that are part of a marketing campaign for a television cartoon…. WBZ has obtained a statement from Turner Broadcasting:

“The “packages” in question are magnetic lights that pose no danger. They are part of an outdoor marketing campaign in 10 cities in support of Adult Swim’s animated television show Aqua Teen Hunger Force. They have been in place for two to three weeks in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle, Portland, Austin, San Francisco and Philadelphia. Parent company Turner Broadcasting is in contact with local and federal enforcement on the exact locations of the billboards. We regret that they mistakenly thought to pose any danger.”  A total of nine devices were found in Boston and Somerville.

Sorry, folks, but “we regret” isn’t good enough.  What on God’s green earth were these people thinking, attaching weird-looking blinky-light devices under a bunch of bridges, apparently without even bothering to alert anyone in the city as to what they were doing?

ShillelaghLaw weighs in:

its a stupid f’ing idea to attach electrical devices to bridges in a crowded city in the post-9/11 world.

After all the public safety expense and all the people who were forced to sit in traffic because of this childish stunt, I hope someone goes to jail for this.

At the very least, the CEO of Turner Broadcasting should be paraded out at a press conference where he or she issues an abject, groveling apology to the Mayor, the Governor, and the people of Boston, and generously agrees to reimburse the city double the cost of the expense it incurred in responding to these things. 

The stupidity of some in corporate America is really beyond belief sometimes.

UPDATE: From Governor Patrick (emphasis mine):

“I am pleased by the prompt, professional and well-coordinated response of law enforcement at all levels to this series of discoveries, and relieved that none of the devices presents a danger to the public.  The investigation is ongoing, but there is no reason for anyone to panic.

“I am deeply dismayed to learn that many of the devices are a part of a marketing campaign by Turner Broadcasting.  This stunt has caused considerable disruption and anxiety in our community.  I understand that Turner Broadcasting has purported to apologize for this.  I intend nonetheless to consult with the Attorney General and other advisors about what recourse we may have.”

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170 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Throw the Book at Them

    Figure out the cost, to the state, plus the lost worker productivity, then multiply it to 10, and send them the bill.

    I would have laughed at this, pre-September 11. And I wish I still could, but this is ONE DAY after the Globe reported that random bag checks aren't turning up anything. This is way beyond irresponsible, it is criminal.  If it were teenagers, they would be in huge trouble.

    • Please...

      Because I'm genuinely curious-

      Tell me under what rationale and precident could Turner be held legally liable for this?

      • I have a rationale...

        This was an illegal act (trespassing on public property) that cost the city and state quite a bit of money. Seems like a pretty straightforward lawsuit to me.

        • not so straightforward

          trespassing on public property

          Something about that phrase strikes me as rather strange.

          P.S. What about that time I put up Howard Dean signs on some bridges around Cambridge and Allston-Brighton before the 2004 Massachusetts presidential primary?  Should I be prosecuted?  Or am I just lucky that the city didn't mistake them for bombs and shut all the highways down?

          • Actually...

            Technically you can't put political signs on state/city property. If the land/object is privately owned and you obtain their permission it's fine, but for example if someone puts a lawn sign right next to a bus stop, it's an illegal sign the town gov't can have the police haul away. In theory some cities/towns might treat signs on gov't property differently, but I have yet to come across one.

            Still, these aren't political. However, they are commercial and can't be put up without permission. They didn't even notify city officials (or anyone apparently) until about 4 hours after the first calls about the devices came in (a notification they /faxed/ in).

          • You were breaking the law.

            You cannot put political signs on public property or someone else's property without permission. Of course, it is widely tolerated, but still illegal.

            • Yup

              I know I was breaking the law.  In the same way that all those people who put up concert flyers or ads for their yard sales on utility poles are breaking the law.

              I also broke the law driving 62mph on route 128 the other day.

              Really, let's see this for what it is.  The overreaction is insane.

          • If you lived in MY town, Cos...

            ...the fine is $25 per day per sign, on public or unapproved property.

            Deval's signs on the Bourne Rotary didn't go unnoticed either.

            • Great

              Let's fine Turner Broadcasting $25 each (a couple hundred total?) and be done with it.

              • Call it $25,000, and I'm in! ;~)

                • Not Enough!

                  If a permit and bond was required, but not secured, then the offending party should be liable for EACH and EVERY PENNY spent by the aggrieved municipalities. And Mumbles should settle for no less.

                  If Turner wants to challenge it, then let a jury decide.

    • And the poor performance artist snookered into doing it

      And his distraught family...I know I talked to his foster mother who was in tears at his arrest.  Barely out pf his teens and offered big bucks to do "performance art" by Turner.

      • Coakley has embarrassed herself

        She might as well have consumed her own excrement on television. Her performance is no less humiliating.

        Every public servant involved in arresting a low-level temp worker for Turner Broadcasting's corporate malfeasance needs to be fired, for cause, pensions terminated, no unemployment insurance, starting at 9 pm tomorrow.

        Really, there is a level of degeneracy after which human beings become simply meat garbage.

        • Coakley, you mean Joakley

          This "attorney" or proesecutor, along with S. Harburger and Reilly, should be put in jail.  No one of any responsiblity will be charged, just the "little" people. And the Fells Acres case makes Ben Leguiers look silly.  Poor Amerault family.  I would always respect someone who made or was affiliated with the statement,"if a few innocent people have to go to jail to prove a point, then so be it"  SH Coakley is worse than Nifong!

      • I agree with your point but...

        In think 27 is a bit more then "barely out of his teens"

      • Amber - he is TWENTY-SEVEN years old! When are you NOT 'barely out of your teens'????

        • Depends

          Bill Clinton is in his fifties qualified until recently.

        • My ageism was showing - and I really thought he was about 21

          I actually know Peter's former foster parents, and had seen him a time or two last year.  I thought he was maybe 21 - but then I was born in 1948, my parents were born in 19012 and 1917 - they are still going strong, in their own home, etc...so maybe you will forgive me.  Besides, "Performance Artists" act and dress like teenagers anyway.

  2. Now what?

    So what do we do? Can we write to Turner Broadcasting as the public disrupted by this and demand them to not only pay for it, but pay for it over and over again. Or do we let the authorities handle it?

    I think it's funny that CNN has yet to report this development, seeing as how they are owned by Turner Broadcasting. WTF??

    This was a really sick and twisted marketing campaign...and I hope that Turner suffers for this big time.

  3. I'm glad it was a 'false alarm'..

    ..but did any of these chuckleheads consider that EACH was planted near a major hospital?  And on a major T overpass?

    No more Family Guy for me...sorry, Stewie.

    • umm

      Isn't Family Guy on Fox?

      And they were all over the place, mostly in highly visible locations (which is the point, right?) Just about everyone in my office had seen at least one.  We'd even talked about it at lunch.  I'd seen 4, but someone else had seen 7.  It never occurred to us they were anything but a promotion.  They look just like lite-brites.

      There are pictures of 20 of them at the guys site:


      • If they ARE on Fox, they're awfully tolerant...

        ...because they're on the Adult Swim web site.  11:30 pm, Cartoon Network.

        NO!  NO!  Must not look....

        Does Fox show reruns?

        • http://www.fox.com/schedule/



          Family Guy is a registered trademark of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. FAMILYGUY.COM is a trademark of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.

          BTW, Futurama was canceled in 2003.

  4. Er

    They've managed to have these things up in over half a dozen cities for weeks without causing any panic.

    So what happened to that pipebomb in the basement of Boston Medical?  Was that real?  Did that inspire a sudden oversensitivity to blinking things?

    Can't the bomb squad tell a LED from an IED?

    If there never was a pipebomb, what about those original callers?  Did they know these things were innocuous?

    • It's one thing

      to hang it on a restaurant sign.  Quite another to suspend it below a bridge, in a spot where it's not easy to figure out exactly what it is, and where if you wanted to blow the bridge up you might choose to place your device.

      • Nonetheless,

        and despite the fact that I agree wholeheartedly with your demands that CNN cough up serious cash, I am not at all calmed by the fact that our security experts can't tell the difference between an Al Qaeda bomb and a cartoon character. Especially one designed to be easily seen by passersby. It's an ad, for goodness sake.

        • Fair enough.

          One assumes they have binoculars.

        • someone attached....

          1. ....one of them to our school building several days ago.  we took it down.  didn't mistake it for a bomb -- "Identification of Explosives" is no longer tested on MCAS. 

          2. does that mean we can get a little of the "settlement" from turner?

          3. what's the over/under on the amount of serious cash?  i'm guessing $100k. 

          4. did someone say CNN "could afford it?"  no way jose.  their ratings suck.  fox could afford it. 

    • How could they know?

      The bomb squad cannot afford to ignore an illegally placed device just because it has a crude picture of a cartoon character on it. If someone reports an illegally placed device in a suspicious location, they have to treat it seriously, whether it is a cardboard box, a backpack, or a device with a cartoon character on it.

  5. Is Turner a Bush backer?

    If so, it will be interesting to see if they get even a slap on the wrist.  If Greenpeace people, for example, had done something similar, they'd already have been slammed into solitary confinement at undisclosed locations and termed "terrorists".  Will one capitalist (W) treat another (TB) with equal harshness?  I'm curious to see, but I think I know the answer.

  6. Just make them pay

    For the costs of the disruption they caused.

  7. not good

    The State on The City NEEDS to sue . $125Mill * pay over time for all the COPS,FIRE,ATF,FBI,and more * $100 to all business in Boston * $25-$50 to all Students, works in Boston * $50 off the State income taxes that Turner will pay

    This will teach  them

    evetyone that put these "Things?" up 10-25 yrs in Jail $300,000 Fine

  8. city should be embarrassed too

    The police and city officials should be embarassed that they didn't notice these divices until today, three weeks after they were planted.  Obviously a security flaw if people can attach things to our bridges and no one notices for three weeks. 

    Turner owes our city money, and our city owes us an explanation for their incompentence.

    And as the glboe pointed out the random, unconstitutional, searches on the T have proven to be futile.

  9. Statement from Boston City Council president

    Maureen Feeney:

    What our city experienced today is intolerable.  The actions of this company for an apparent `marketing campaign' not only inconvenienced our entire city but awoke painful memories of September 11th in so many hearts and minds.  I look forward to the results of a full investigation. 

    I am grateful for the swift, responsible and appropriate actions taken by the Governor, Mayor, and Police Commissioner to address this potential threat and ensure the safety of those who live, work and learn in Boston. 

  10. I want the chance to live

    Dangerously and if I have to listen to another simpering MSM talking head utter the phrase "in this post 911 world" one more time I might have to stab someone in the face with an icepick. Six full years of irrational Pavlovian type conditioning is causing our society far more destruction and for what to enhance profits for the corporations building Orwell world?

    • MSM?

      "Post 911 world" is all I hear from talk radio, George Bush and Dick Cheney.

    • Please check you bottles

      I think you prescription may need to be refilled. 

      While I will agree with you that the talking point "in this post 911 world" is way over used, I think you are Monday morning quarterbacking the response a little too much.  It is really easy to look at these devices, now knowing what they are, and say "WTF, did we need to bring out the bomb squad?" 

      Think about what information the cops had at the time.  1. There is a box with a battery source, blinking lights, and areas that can't see into.  2. The box is connected/left in areas where, if they are bombs, they could damage bridges or kill people.  3. "I want to go home to my family tonight and don't want to see any innocent people killed."

      I think the response by the governor, the mayor (both people I am not a fan of) and the police departments was appropriate based on the level of knowledge we believe they had.  That could change if say a permit was pulled to install these devices or something like that.

      What we should do now is allow the governor and the AGs office to figure out what laws have been broken and prosecute those offenses.  After that maybe some ambitious attorney will file a class action suite for damages suffered by the people who were inconvenienced during this mess.

      • Nope, no meds here

        Yes, it would take volumes to explain my new world view and why.  At this point I would prefer a good death over the prospects of assuming some S&M submissive posture for our "benevolent" government.  As for those "meds", try a Google search on the term BARDA.  I swore off all meds ever since Frist and Hastert took away the right of people to sue big pharma for injuries due to non-tested drugs.

      • One more point that needs to be made

        I think you are Monday morning quarterbacking the response a little too much

        Some people doubted the existence of the threat while it was happening. Due to the simple fact that most things that exist are not threats.

        Those people are called "adults."

      • Admitted change in my thinking

        As more information has come out I have changed my position slightly on this.  I still believe the initial response by the police was fine.  After they had destroyed the first sign and examined it they should have backed off and just went and collected the rest of these signs.  I now feel the mayor and governor may have been over reaching and I think there needs to be an investigation as to why this continued to the hysteria it did.

        I also now feel that Coakly is way over reacting and is maliciously prosecuting the two "artists".  I think the only thing they likely did wrong was not get a permit for the signs.

  11. Turner's brillant ad agency

    Interference Inc is repsonisble for this.  But don't bother with the link, their appear to be down (surprise).  But here is a Q and A with the CEO, er, as of tomorrow, the former CEO.

  12. Contact info

    Engineering consultants frequently deploy sensors in public places for days or weeks to measure air quality, noise, vibration, traffic volumes, etc. Everyone once in a while, an overzealous citizen/security officer/policeman sees the unit, freaks out, and calls the bomb squad - the bomb squad shows up, blows up the device, and the consultant is out one $5000 measurement device.

    Most of us consultants are aware of this danger, so we try (when practical) to inform the authorities in advance when we're deploying units. I can understand that maybe a guerrilla marketing firm might not inform people because of the old adage "it's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission."

    However, there is one other approach we take in these situations: we attach a sign to the unit that basically says "this unit is a noise measurement device that has been deployed for XX project. Please call John Smith at (617) 555-1100 if you have any concerns about this device."

    I'm wondering if these devices had a similar warning. If not, it is inexcusable.

    Furthermore, I suspect no Boston movie theaters will be showing the ATHF movie this March ;)

    • Hmmm....

      Stop giving the terrorists ideas!  "This bomblike device is actually a noise measurement device...please call Abdul Rahman at...if you have any concers..."

      As for the movie, I wonder if theatres will even ge tthe option of showing it in Boston..

      sabutai   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
  13. Umm...

    I need more information...

    Does anyone have any pictures of these devices? I checked milo's reply, that still didn't answer my questions.

    If it was a billboard - and they were up in 9 other large cities - I don't see how this was anything unreasonable, at least to the extent that you'd lay an F-Bomb at them and come out so strong. Was it bad marketing? Sure... but that doth not equal this response.

    On another note, ATHF is an exceptionally popular show at college - even I used to watch it (I find it a little dull at this point), but I'm still a fan of Adult Swim... so I certainly hope that distaste for what they do or the fact that they're cartoons influenced the outcry in this... I kind of sense from your tone that it may (stupid promotional stunt), but then again trying to read for one's meaning on the internet is rarely advisable, at least as one would do with in an oral conversation, so I won't do it.

    • Pics

      There are some pics floating around of the Boston ones (check cnn.com), but here's some Flickr pics of the construction of one of the devices:


    • We got yer pictures right here

      Boston-area photos of the things.

    • I couldn't care less about the show.

      I've never watched it, but I don't watch much TV.  But regardless of what you or anyone else thinks about the show, surely you'd agree that this was, indeed, a "stupid promotional stunt"?  I mean, come on -- it shut down the city.  And they're not "billboards" as that term is normally used -- they're small magnetic devices that were attached underneath bridges.  Here's a photo from ch. 4.

      "Bad marketing" is marketing that does not succeed in selling its product.  It crosses the line into utter stupidity when it manages to send emergency response teams into overdrive in the process.

      • Umm....

        The only incompetence I see from this whole scenario is the idiotic reaction of the city of Boston. As much as I don't care for Ted Turner/CNN/etc, I don't think his company should be held responsible for the city's reaction to it at all. If there are laws against doing what they did, then by all means look into a particular case. However, I don't see how it's at all any different than people posting flags and other promotional things on bridges either. If we're saying no to this, then we should say no to everything.

        I actually find the whole thing rather humorous. If you're angry because you had to wait in lots of traffic, then complain to the people who unnecessarily made you wait: the people who shut down the roads for something that was clearly a florescent sign. No one needed to call the bomb squad to take it down, even in a "post 9/11 world."

        • Oh come on, Ryan.

          Your hindsight, like everyone else's, is 20/20.  And of course this is different from flags on bridges.

          Glad you find it humorous.  You seem to be the only one.  (And no, this is not a reaction to any inconvenience that I personally suffered - I didn't get stuck in traffic or on the T today.)

          • The only one?

            David, you may disagree with Ryan, but it's pretty cledar that his opinion isn't so rare.  Take a look at the b0st0n livejournal site, where several people are cracking up over the whole thing.

          • No, he's not the only one

            I don't agree with Ryan, but plenty of other people are finding humor in it.

          • David...

            I'm not saying it was funny, though it was that too, I'm mainly pissed that this the force we have protecting us. The Boston Police should be ashamed. There's NO WAY that could be accepted as a bomb by any sane, rational person. The people who thought it was a bomb are obviously disjointed by post-9/11 hysteria.

            Like I said toward the end of this blog in a comment, if this was supposed to be a bomb why make it so obvious? Certainly, that's not how all Al Qaeda and the like work.

            Just imagine if Boston put this kind of effort in discovering the identities of all the murderers in Boston causing this spike in crime. I dare say the streets would be safe again. Funny how the effort can go into Mooninites, but not Dorchester.

            • Easy for you to say out there in the burbs

              But wasn't the first device found in Somerville by a MBTA worker? I also doubt that the Boston Police shut down Route 93 or delayed the MBTA.

              In fact, it was a Boston Police analyst that recognized the character, not the staties who started all this.

          • I gotta go with David.

            Some of the facts which I am aware:

            • The first report of a suspicous device: aprox 9:30am
            • New reports of the suspicious Mooninites packages start to trickle in, 13/14 in all, start to trickle in all afternoon. Ed Davis claims two calls reported devices as "pipe bombs" to police.
            • Hit the national media: noonish?
            • Rumors that the suspcious package are apart of a viral marketing scheme hit law enforcement/city hall: 3:30pm
            • Turner confirms they are behind the Mooninite viral marketing campaign, 5:30pm.

            Explain why it is reasonable for law enforcement to assume that just because the first few unidentified devices are not bombs, that they should completely let their gaurds  down and assume each subsequent device is not a bomb.  Hypothetically, could a terrorist group with only one bomb not plant a dozen or so decoy bombs to distract law enforcement?

            Not to mention, someone could build a bomb and package it as a Lite Bright Mooninite.  Guards come down and the bombsquad is not called, and the person(s) disposing of the device are wounded or killed.

            If all of these decisions were resting on your shoulders, given all the lives that could be adversely affected by just one device being a bomb, given that Turner did not confirm the devices as harmless until after five, how could any of us sitting behind our computer screens think that we would have handled it differently?

            • You're right

              Let's stop the highways and subways for every random thing that could be a bomb too. That way, society will crumble. Though we'll be starving to death and suffering from terrible diseases, at least we won't have a long commute!

              Seriously, you could hide a bomb behind a flag on ANY bridge. No one would think twice. You could hide a bomb in a purse, in a garbage can, anywhere. We can't search everything in society. What we can do is use a robust intelligence service to hopefully find out any potential threat before it happens. However, all human life is a risk. There are two gauranteed things you have in life: you're born and you die. You'll probably pay taxes at some point too. It seems to me to be an awefully crappy life if we're so timid, scared and hysterical that we stop everything because there's some flourescent lights hanging onp on a bridge. I think people need to really gain some perspective on this issue, because I quite honestly think it's rediculous - and I don't think I'm in the minority with this one.

              • Living life with the casual attitude that $quot;all human life is a risk$quot;...

                ...seems equally as crappy as the timid/hysterical way of life you accuse Boston area/State officials of propagating.

                I don't disagree with the the idea that government wastes tons of money to supposedly make us "safer". 

                You say all human life is at risk...tell that to the guy/gal YOU send out to dispose of the suspicious boxes that some callers claimed were pipe bombs.

                I am not law enforcement or bombsquad, but I used to study and work in the electrical engineering field.  You are tought to approach every circuit/piece of equipment as "live" so that you don't get electocuted (after gettting shocked a few times, I learned this is a great rule to follow).  When I was taught gun safety as a kid, I was told to approach and treat every weapon and all ammunition as if it is live (how many accidental gun deaths could have been prevented if this rule was applied more consistently?). Why wouldn't we afford the same measure of safety to the people we charge with disposing potential bombs?

                A few years ago I was living in a dorm where every weekend, people thought it was funny to pull the fire alarm at 3am -  a common occurance on college campuses. Around that same time, I remember there was a horrible fire at a differentcollege dorm that claimed the life of several students.  It was later determined that the students remained in their rooms because they were sick of 'false alarms'.

                It is easy to sit behind the computer and say we would do things better.  Maybe you are in the majority, but none of our hypothetical decisons here affect one human life.  Given the facts of which officials were aware, I certainly wouldn't risk someone's health or life.

                Decisions have to be made in matters of minutes, if someone did get hurt because of this, there would be a lot more outrage and fallout. Better to err on the side of caution then live lif knowing your false confidence that a device wasn't a bomb cost some one a couple fingers, their sight, or worse.

                • Your argument would have merit...

                  If not for the fact that it was florescent lights depicting MOONINITES! That's not anything remotely close to a false alarm - it's more like putting up a poster on the wall.

                  I'm not saying the police shouldn't have been careful. I'm saying there's a happy medium where safety and a working infrastucture are BOTH taken into account. Boston could have been safe, smart and still in relative working order - Mooninites and all.

                  • You don't know that they were florescent lights in the day time

                    Who says that someone crafty enough to buiold a bomb isn't crafty enough to dress it up as a Mooninite or Mickey Micky Mouse or a briefcase?

                    • Maybe...

                      They didn't notice the first time. Maybe not even the second time... but you'd think, after the 8th or 9th light-brite, they'd have gotten the picture.

            • There was an unrelated fake pipe bomb at Tufts New England

              That they were also chasing.  Just another day in the big city.

        • Humurous????

          Ryan,  someday you will leave your taxpayer subsidized college down there and enter the real world.  It was far from humurous to those of us stuck in traffic trying to make a living.  (so we can help put you through school).  It was not "humorous".

          • Right

            College isn't the real world. I'm actually plugged into a computer right now - the scar on my neck is quite jarring; it gives me the creeps.

            Meanwhile, my "taxpayer subsidized college" has educated me enough to realize that it sort of makes sense to attack the real problem - and it wasn't an attack of the Mooninites, because they only exist in the real, unreal world - TV.

            I said it on my blog and I've said it in comments: someone should pay for the fact that they screwed up thousands of people's commutes. However, Time Warner isn't the one to blame. It was the overreaction by police. In truth, it was society - which has forced them to be super-uptight about everything. While it's important to be safer than sorrier, there are always going to be some lines that shouldn't be crossed. I think one of them is putting everyone in a standstill because of some light bulbs.

    • better pic

  14. Is this what's meant by $quot;Guerilla Marketing$quot; ?

    I've channel surfed past that show on the cartoon network, watched 3 minutes of it, and wondered what it was. Now I know. Jeebus.

  15. Did they do anything illegal?

    Note: being stupid is not illegal.

    • Possibly

      Here is a Mass law... http://www.mass.gov/...

      Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 266: Section 102A1/2. (a) Whoever possesses, transports, uses or places or causes another to knowingly or unknowingly possess, transport, use or place any hoax device or hoax substance with the intent to cause anxiety, unrest, fear or personal discomfort to any person or group of persons shall be punished by imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than two and one-half years or by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than five years or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

      Based on this law, it depends on the definition of a "hoax device".  According to the law a "hoax device" is "shall mean any device that would cause a person reasonably to believe that such device is an infernal machine."  The sign is giving you the finger so I guess that could be "infernal".

      Side Note: Could someone please direct me to a book or website that will explain how to set up links to words so I don't have to keep giving these big link lines.  Please.

      • Note the intent clause

        with the intent to cause anxiety, unrest, fear or personal discomfort

        I doubt that that was the intent, and even if it was, proving it would be incredibly difficult.

      • I have not....

        ....even tried to research if there are any cases where this law has been applied or been the subject of an appeal, so I am by no means speaking with any real knowledge...but....

        One could perhaps demonstrate the intent by trying to show that placing these devices the way they did was wanton and reckless and that a reasonable person should have known the devices would cause anxiety...establishing involuntary intent.  It is a stretch, but not far fetched. 

        Cooler heads may prevail in the coming days, but if the powers that be want someone in jail for this they will try everything they can to make it happen.

    • Certainly trespassing if nothing else

  16. The real question is why?

    Why is Boston area the only place this viral marketing campaign wasn't recoginzed for what is was, and summarily ignored?  A dozen cities have had these things up for a couple of weeks, now, and suddenly they are "suspicious devices?"  I thought the Keystone Cops were so named because they were in PA, but they are apparently alive and well right here in Boston. 

    Flashing cartoon character = bomb?

    Now, if it is found that the call in to claim a threat was part of the marketing campaign, I'll be on board with you to get reimbursement from Ted.  Until then, I don't see how a reasonable person can claim TNT is responsible for the overreaction we've experienced.


    • I don't blame the cops for taking action.

      Is a bomb supposed to look like a bomb? A fake bomb? I don't think the cops pay a whole lot of attention to the marketing campaigns of cartoon shows in other cities. Anything unusual placed under bridges, near subways (near LPGN tanks for instance), would be cause for concern, especially if there were a bunch of them.

      It's easy for us to say that it was an overreaction, but I don't think that they had much choice when they started finding odd stuff with wires and batteries under bridges.

      • Hidding bombs in plain site isn't anything new

        During the Vietnam War, the Viet Cong hid bombs in stuffed teddy bears in areas where GIs would be to blow them up.

      • Umm...

        If you wanted to hide a bomb,

        A. You wouldn't put it in plain sight for 3 weeks without setting it off.

        B. You wouldn't put it in plain site at all - a real bomb could have easily been stashed in an area out of sight or undetectable by the human eye from most distances (heck, they could have painted it the same color green as the bridge).

        We can't go stopping the entire transportation system of this state every time we see something weird. Heck, no one would have called the cops if there was a bomb behind one of those flags hung up at nearly every bridge - and it wouldn't be very hard to concievably do such a thing.

        It's sad to see this country is still paralyzed about 9/11. It's called paranoia. Let's get over it (or the terrorists win).

        • And you know all of this because ... ?

          • Basic logic.

            Please tell me one instance where terrorists, be they international or otherwise, have placed a well-lit, easy to spot bomb that actually MARKETED its location to everyone. Furthermore, that bomb has to have been in the same place for at least 21 days and seen by millions of people, hundreds of thousands every day.

            That would be a REALLY stupid terrorist.

        • Remember...

          When the bomb squad gets a call for a "suspicious device" they have to respond -- they don't have a choice -- even if they think it's a hoax.  In your spare time, do a little research on Officer Jeremiah Hurley.

          • spare time.

            yea, spare time, like when not watching cartoons or blogging.

          • That doesn't contradict my posts at all

            In fact, I said they should have responded. Someoen should have been immediately sent out to take a look at the situation. A quick look would have ascertained that it was florescent lights, well marked, easy to spot... and been there for a while. Logic would dictate such a device wouldn't be a bomb, because people who plant bombs generally want them to go off... and putting one in a place so easy to see, with bright glowing lights, isn't a very good way at achieving success.

            Send someone out to investigate. Take some pictures. Bring them back for others to look at - they probably would have heard "Oh, that's a Mooninite from ATHF" because millions of people watch it. If not, they would have at least known it was a bright light, easy to spot... and probably not a cuase to shut down all of Boston. It probably would have required a few lanes to be shut down, because you can never be sure of what it is until it's removed and I'm sure it would have to be removed delicately.... but, clearly, Boston overreacted here - by a long shot.

            9/11 hysteria = death of this country's freedom. We need to get over it fast.

            • Old joke

              How much does it cost for the Government to remove some lightbulb?

            • What you don't seem to get...

              Is that we pay people like police and bomb squads NOT to take things at face value.  They have to respond the same way every time  --  even if they think it's nothing.  When they are called to investigate, the Bomb Squad's approach to these things are informed by the fact that they have had people killed and maimed responding to calls for "suspicious" packages.  You may think that that is overreacting, but I think it's just them doing their jobs.

              • It IS overreacted

                Do you know how many "suspicious" packages are left around Boston everyday? I'd wager 100s. The vast majority of them probably go reported. We can't shut down things for every single one of them.

                Clearly, the current policy doesn't work if this is what we get when there's pictures of Mooninites. Progressives are supposed to get that we don't blindly follow the government's policy. Sadly, I think 9/11 has eaten into the psyche of so-called "reality-based" people who read this website every day. It's asinine, unnecessary and just plain old sucks. I don't like living in that kind of a worry-wart environment when I could be in a society that lives free or dies. 

    • I suspect they got permission

      It seems to me that someone somewhere gave permission for them to put these ads up, and that someone forgot to pass on a memo alerting people. 

      • I have a feeling you maybe right

        I was thinking that too.  Corporations now-a-days have way too many lawyers for someone to just go out and do this without checking for the legal consequences and possibly getting a permit or permission.

      • Precedent for no permission

        I was wondering about that, but there have been marketing campaigns, including in Boston, without permission.  One company--maybe Red-Hat Linux or another computer-related one--spraypainted graffitti all over the streets about 6 or 7 years ago, as I recall.

  17. Paranoia gone ary.

    Turner should not be held liable for anything (not that they couldn't afford it). It's not their fault someone mistaked a billboard for a bomb.

    These things have been up for weeks. I'm sorry people's commutes and workdays were disrupted, but that's life when people can't bring themselves to walk outside their house without the media and government perpetuated fear of terrorist attacks.

    • Also...

      As an avid fan of the show, I find it tragically amusing that lite-brite versions of these two anti-villians were able to terrorize Boston.

      • Or

        As an avid fan of the City of Boston and Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I think you ought to go to hell.

        • Why?

          What did I ahem, personal attack do?

          Step back and look at the irony- because it's there. Boston is the only locale where this level of reaction occurred. If you can't eventually laugh about this, then terrorism, paralysis, and fear (the goals of any terrorist) has truly come to realization.

        • As an avid fan of the city of boston and the commonwealth

          of Massachusetts, I think the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts acted like a bunch of frakking morons. Those in charge of this mission of gigantic proportions to remove a few lights from a bridge ought to be fired immediately.

          As an avid fan of the city and state, I have certain expectations of them to... oh, I don't know, be SOMEWHAT competent. They failed that here, by a long shot.

          You don't even look at the issue reasonably or logically, and immediately resort to a personal attack. Not cool.

      • More

        Sorry for the initial reaction, but I think this was too big of a disturbance to be so tickled.

        • Apology Accepted

          Thank you for clarifying your argument.

        • Then...

          Target your anger at the right people - the ones responsible for this entire disgrace: the people who took a friggin florescent sign for a bomb. If these people are allowed to be in charge of bomb squads, etc. then next you'll know is the Boston Commons will be closed to the public because someone left a Dunkin Donuts cup on the grass.

          • Hmmm

            I guess I do need to target my anger at people who mistook that for a bomb (though for all I know bombs have large smiley faces on them).

            Not to belabor my stupid comment upthread, but I made it before I knew how cartoonish the things looked. I was still thinking in the early morning "suspicious package" context.

            Perhaps this is the sort of thing the Police Civilian Review Board should look at? I am not sure of its mandate, and such things tend to be focused on charges of police brutality etc. but maybe this sort of policing is fair game. What do you think?

          • Ryan - they don't glow in the daytime

            At night, they light up like a LiteBrite board.  During the day, they look more like a computer keyboard with wires sticking out of it (I spoke today to soembody who had seen one in person).

            The person probably didn't realize it, but they happened to choose intersections near Boston's main hospitals (MGH, Tufts, NE Medical Center, etc.) and there was anxiety that an effort was being made to take out Boston's medical infrastructure - perhaps in advance of a dirty bomb?

            How could a policeman know this was a cute joke?  Heck, I WATCH ATHF and I hadn't heard of this promotion!

            And now - what is to stop a terrorist to make a mockup of these devices, with a REAL bomb inside, which will detonate when touched as police dispose of the 'harmless' gadgets?

            • !

              I WATCH ATHF

              I must admit, Peter, that each time you reveal more about yourself, you surprise me.  Which i consider very cool.

            • Well,

              We can't shut down Boston because of every boogeyman, PP. I'm not saying nothing should have been done; I'm just saying what was overdone was serious overkill. Clearly, an overhall of procedures is necessary. We can't literally stop Boston every time there's something suspicious. Millions of people live, work and go to school there... Boston wouldn't otherwise run.

              • YEs, you can...every time

                Ryan, Since you seem to have a finger on the pulse of world terror, please explain to us the Homeland Security budget and what the State of Massachusetts  receives. As unfortunate as the commuting delays were, forcing the alleged "causee" to pay for lost wages/down time is silly.  Unless a crime was committed.  But, if you were speeding on the expressway (could be argued as a terrorist act) and caused a major accident, should you be charged for all the lost wages/downtime.  Come on people, your time is NOT that valuable.  If it were, why are you on this site or other non-work related web sites?  Clearly, Martha Coakley (joakley) has a supspect in lockup as we speak.  As vague or as clear as that MGL statute may be, or not be.....am I clear?, She will find a way.....The fells acres apologist! (hardley) 

          • Note to all

            Please do not hire Ryan Adams for any job involving security.

        • Bravo DS, Thanks!

    • It is their fault

      If it was a legally placed billboard, then your argument might hold some water.

  18. 9/11 was 5 1/2 years ago; time to move on

    9/11 was a horrible event, but it is now five and a half years in the past.  We should not continue to let it control our lives.  Let's get back to the way we lived before it happened.

  19. Confused

    I live out of state now, so I'm trying to figure out wtf happened in Boston today.  Were the cartoon character LED's clear to those who saw the devices?  After the bomb squad dealt with the first one, did the reaction to the others ratchet down?  Was it done differently than in these 9 other cities?

    I'm not a fan of advertising in general, particularly not when a large corporation does it in public spaces, and particularly when they don't pay for it.  But I'm also not quite clear on why this provoked such a big reaction.  could someone offer some details?

    • Well, I stood in Sullivan Square

      on Sunday for about 30 minutes, bored out of my mind, waiting for a tardy bus.

      I was right where the video seemed to show.  I look around at the place all the time. 

      Didn't see anything.  It was also evening (5:45-6:15ish), so if it was lighted/flashing I probably would have noticed it.  I have quick reflexes for stuff like that--I am a sharp proofreader and quick for out of place stuff.

    • Fear-driven idiocy

      The public attitude is such that public officials and police are in some ways locked in to ridiculous overreactions like this, and it scares me.  What happened today in Boston was a scandal, and I don't mean the little blinky lights.

  20. Strongly disagree

    The problem was the city's extreme overreaction to something that has gone unremarked in a bunch of other cities for good reason: it's harmless.  It scares me how much we're willing to narrow our public sphere and the allowable range of activities, regardless of the cost to art, commerce, culture, and just plain fun, in the name of vague overblown fear.

    • Some thoughts

      At least from where I sat it wasn't so absurd a reaction.

      Granted now it seems beyond all possible proportion. But for me, the morning news from Boston.com and elsewhere seemed to paint a very dark picture. We had "circuit boards" which are known to be used in "improvised explosive devices." Now this might be part of what you're talking about, the vague sense of fear.

      Why is it that when I walk past a backpack in South Station sitting on a table my head sometimes jerks around to see if someone is with it? I guess one possible answer is that some of my most formative years (16-21) have seen the drum of terror beaten pretty hard.

      Did you happen to see the piece in the LA Times recently wondering just how bad 9/11 was? Essentially they placed it in proportion to other acts of historical significance. Obviously the author didn't try and say losing 3,000 lives was good, just tried to place it in historical perspective. I'll let you know if I find a link.

      And by the by, a deserved bad mark from you up the thread, I was a mite foolish, which is part of why I like the ratings system.

  21. My favorite part..

    ...was that the best source of info on all this was WBCN.  WBZ was playing press conferences and discussing who was on their way to what press conference, and reading vague statements from every government agency with a letterhead.  I didn't learn a blodoy thing from them.

    When they go on commercial, I surf the FM dial, and of all places on 'BCN they're reading the statement from Turner (received around 1 in the afternoon), giving web addresses of images of the ad, and talking with callers who saw them in Boston and other places.

    I just wish more of our journalists were good at journalism.

    sabutai   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
  22. This is fucking ridiculous.

    We're throwing people in prison over Lite-brite.

    Yeah, I hate corporations as much as the next guy... but could you imagine what would happen if it was some poor kid from MIT?  A battery and an LED screen do not a bomb make.

    This post 9/11 stuff is total crap, and I didn't think we'd be dumb enough to fall for it.  The day an LED screen on the subway is grounds for arrest is the day liberty dies.

    The world is laughing at us.  Frankly, though I supported him through the campaign, I'm appalled by Patrick's actions in this, though even moreso with Menino and the police department.  (We made a stupid mistake, so lets throw people in jail?!)

    ...and face it, it was pretty fucking funny for all of us who knew the first thing about ATHF.

    For the first time in my life, I am today ashamed to call myself a citizen of Massachusetts.

    • So placing a box with batteries and wires under a bridge..

      is okay with you.  Especially when you don't notify the state, police or any other agency.  Wouldn't one get permission first.  Makes sense to me.  You don't agree.

      I don't think that this was overblown.  It seems so now to a few since you now know that it wasn't a bomb.  Thank you for the 20/20 hindsight.  That's all just a load of BS.

      • No, its still ridiculous.

        "A box with batteries and wires."  It's a fucking LED screen. Any competent bomb-squad people should've figured this out the moment they arrived on the scene.  There was no need to shut down the city or anything; this should've been over in minutes.

        Should we throw people in jail for every weird-looking device on the street we don't inform the government about first?  What the hell happened to the liberty part of liberal?  Besides, this happened in plenty of other cities without incident... are we now the cradle of paranoia?

        I don't want to live in a Massachusetts where anything unusual and gasp electric means 2-5 years imprisonment.  Are we now going to throw people in jail for all your base stuff?

        ((After all, "somebody set up us the bomb" and "you have no chance to survive make your time" could be interpreted as a threat... and in the post-9/11 world, we must be careful!))

        • Actually, you may be wrong

          every weird-looking device on the street we don't inform the government about first?  What the hell happened to the *liberty* part of liberal?

          These devices could easily be defined as "internaly illuminated advertising devices".

          Never mind whether or not a clever malcontent could do harm via these devices - there are strict city ordinances regulating the installing of signs and advertising without proper permits and bonding.

          I hope that someone is looking into that, because it might very well provide the legal grounds for the city to recoup all costs associated with this event.

          • I'm a fan of accountability...

            Boston was stupid, acted stupidly... and deserves to pay for it. Maybe, next time, they'll learn to take a close inspection... and then use their brains.

  23. Enter scapegoat, stage left

    Boston.com is now reporting that police arrested an artist, based apparently on descriptions on his website of planting the ads around town.  We now have a scapegoat, and I really fear that this yougn man will be dragged through the wringer while others involved skip happily away.  Whether you think that Turnber Broadcasting is criminal or you think that the city's response was incompetent--or both--I hope that you'll agree that this man should not be the one who takes the brunt of the public's anger.  But I fear that that's just where this looks headed.

  24. funny but not

    I admit I find the whole thing a little funny too Ryan. And when Deval said "and its not funny," I couldn't help but... .laugh a little. Not to mention the whole cartoon factor.

    That said, we need to recognize that it wasn't funny for the people living with HIV/AIDS who almost did not get their meals delivered this morning because due to the traffic jams the meals had almost reached the temperature where Community Servings is not allowed to serve them.

    Who knows how many other services were affected by this.  Turner should definately be sued, but let the artist who was hired to hang them up alone, he didn't know it would turn into this.

    • Right, but...

      That wasn't that poor guy's fault - and I don't blame Turner either. It's the cities fault; take your complaints up to them for being a bunch of hysterical loons.

  25. Corporate decisions

    Don't think for a moment that if an MIT kid did this as a prank, he'd probably go to jail for a long, long time.

    Given that, I think that jail time, not fines, should be considered. Why is a corporate decision less culpable than a personal decision?

    • How about...

      Beaurocratic competency? Boston flunked on all accounts today; if the city did it's job, none of us would have heard of the attack of the Mooninites in Boston today.

      • B.S.

        If Turner had told someone in Somerville, where it started, or Cambridge, or Boston, or whoever, maybe none of this would have happened. Companies do that all the time.  And the fact that there was an unrelated pipe bomb hoax the same day probably didn't make things any better.

        Having sat on the Orange Line for 40 minutes while this was happening, I wasn't happy either.  Glad I didn't have any immediate business at hand.

        Anyway, today's a new day. Let's talk about casinos or something.

  26. What I don't get

    is how these things were up for weeks and only caused a furor yesterday.

    And there seemed to be no panic in other cities, even New York.

    I think it was pure idiocy to put these things on bridges. But if they HAD been bombs, no one saw them for two weeks??!!

    • you forgot $quot;up in highly visible places$quot;

      The problem is we've become a nation of reactionary idiots.  Rather than planning, we respond to the last crisis. Every time I fly I thank God there wasn't a "crotch bomber."

      On a fundamental level I blame the Bush Administration for using 9/11 to further their political agenda (including Iraq) rather than say, working with other countries (e.g. England) to adapt their security procedures to the US.  It's one of many reasons I'm no longer a GOP member.

  27. Hey! Lookit this!


  28. If this thread goes beyond 175 comments...

    ...then the terrorists have won.

  29. Could we avoid the name-calling, please?

    In the course of this conversation, one person above told someone to go to hell.  Now you're calling someone an idiot, ridiculous, and tell him he sounds like an asshole.  disagree all you want, but please drop the personal attacks.  As the Rules of the Road say,

    Insults, personal  attacks, rudeness, and blanket unsupported statements reduce the level of discourse, interfere with our basic objective, and are not permitted.

  30. So I'm the one being ridiculous?

    I didn't say ignore the calls.

    First off: The calls were describing identical items.  Once one of them's investigated and obviously an ATHF reference and not a bomb, they should stop being suspicious about the other obvious ATHF references.

    Secondly: Are we so fucking paranoid that litebrite+wires = bomb?  What's next -- an abandoned cellphone on a bridge is cause for concern?  Those can be detonated too.

    And the original caller said she had seen it there for weeks, no?  What sort of terrorist waits weeks?

    Thirdly: They informed the government.  Just because it got lost in the state paperwork doesn't mean they didn't.

    And lastly... okay, it was a mistake.  Do we need to be throwing a man in jail because the police made a mistake?  Tell the guy sitting in prison because the cops overreacted that I'm the one being ridiculous.  Our routines are not so precious as to give the slightest bit of disorder a jail term.

    Frankly, I believe in a Massachusetts where we can have weird things without calling the cops and shutting the bridges.  And maybe, when 4chan starts to look down on us, we're doing something wrong.

  31. Standing Corrected

    My personal attacks have ceased...

    Would that we could delete comments.

  32. It was a visceral reaction

    To his original post.  When someone drops an F-bomb in the subject line of their post (and in the post) it sets me off.  Sorry, I should have just called him out on his nonsensical comments and his over-the-top presentation; "This is ridiculous... I'm embarrassed...the whole world is laughing at us"

  33. Thanks

    Thanks for the apology--birdboy can decide whether to accept it, but I appreciate it.  Though for the record, David dropped an F-bomb in the title of this entire thread, though he did censor his.

  34. Yes

    Actually, I'd meant to note that you apologized--sorry that didn't get into my post.  I appreciated your doing so, particularly so quickly.

  35. Re:

    My "the whole world is laughing at us" isn't an exaggeration, its a fact.  I submit 4chan and slashdot as evidence of the general online world's response.

    And I fully defend my usage of "fucking" as a rational expression of outrage.

    When foreigners type "lol America" and mock our paranoia, it shouldn't be because of Massachusetts.  We're supposed to be better than those idiots.

  36. One note

    If you want people to follow you, be casreful to explain your references.  I'd guess that about 80% of the people on here don't know what 4chan and/or slashdot are, and at least half of those who know probably don't read them.

  37. BirdyBoy--

    You and I just don't see eye to eye on this.  You are obviously an expert in the type of devices the bomb squad should take seriously and the ones they shouldn't.  I'm glad you're just a critic and don't get paid to answer 9-1-1 calls.  In you spare time, do a little research on Officer Jeremiah Hurley.

  38. field

    Wasn't trying to get a pat on the back, though appreciated, just wanted to try and get back to some of the more serious issues involved.

  39. I must apologize too... outrage clouds arguments.

    Okay, fine.

    I'm not an expert.  Neither is the guy who planted an innocuous-looking device.  Nor is Turner Broadcasting, nor is any prospective hoaxer trying a bit of culture jamming.

    But when people are thrown in jail for false alarms, when governor Patrick and Tom Menino threaten to throw the book at whoever did this instead of admitting this fact of a mistake, when "taking it seriously" means a guy spends two to five years behind bars, or at best must endure a long, cumbersome trial...

    Then it becomes a disgrace.

  40. Sorry... forgot what part of the web this was.

    Umm... wikipedia it, I guess.  They're much better with this stuff than I am.

  41. I heard the Mayor on Paul Sullivan tonight..

    He specifically said he wasn't interested in going after the people who placed the ads  --  he knows that they are not the ones that need to be held accountable on this.  My guess is that they are going to try and get the corporate types to cover the costs of responding to this.  My point to you is that when the bomb squad gets a call for a "suspicious device" they have to respond -- they don't have a choice -- even if they think it's a hoax.

  42. Cool

    Fair enough.  I'm actually familiar with slashdot, but I'm guessing that puts me in a minority, so some may be put off or confused by the references.

  43. Guess Mumbles was lying

    Since they arrested the local artist who made the "devices".

  44. Glad to hear it, but still concerned

    I'm glad the mayor said that, but I'm still concerned that the artist is going to get the book thrown at him.  Hopefully not; what happens at his arraignment tomorrow may give us some sense.  If he was arrested in Arlington, he's out of Menino's jurisdiction anyway, though obviously Menino has lots of sway on this.

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