Bomb-Scare Settlement

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced the settlement today with Turner Broadcasting System and Interference, Inc. for last week’s marketing mishegas: they will pay $1 million to reimburse the affected cities and towns for their response and $1 million for goodwill to spend on security, community education, emergency response preparedness, and similar stuff. In a statement TBS and Interference accepted full responsibility for the consequences of the campaign.

The settlement did not dispose of criminal charges against Steven Berdovsky and Sean Stevens, the two knuckleheads Interference hired to place the electronic devices that triggered the scare around the city. Coakley is working to dispose of their pending criminal charges short of trial. As my friend Bob used to say back when we were trying to convince the parole board to release state cons who screwed up their paroles by breaking curfew or urinating in public, “stupidity is not a crime.” They can’t be charged criminally for their foolish behavior, and the charges they do face are likely to be reduced.

I’ll finish this post with two things, a YouTube video (thanks, AP & JK) of Berdovsky and Stevens installing the the devices around Boston and my final thoughts. The devices appear benign in the video. You don’t see dangling wires but the images, all shot at night when the lighted devices’ cartoonish quality is apparent, are not distinct enough to say there were no dangling or suspicious wires on any of the 38 placed around the city. News reports last week said that at least some of the devices did have protruding wires or wires wrapped in duct tape. Even if only a few did–even if only one did–if that one was located under, say, the BU Bridge, then the official response does not look crazy. Some of the devices that set off the alarm were no longer illuminated, or were viewed in daylight and did not appear benign. Ridicule of the official response starts from the premise that the devices were obviously cartoonish, and then concludes that police over-reacted. One needs to analyze the response by asking whether the facts reasonably support a conclusion that the official response was appropriate. Based on my understanding of what officials first learned and saw–one or more electronic devices of ambiguous or unknown character in locations where such unknown devices should raise suspicions–I do not conclude that the response was inappropriate. If the facts are not as I understand them then I would revise my conclusion.

9 thoughts on “Bomb-Scare Settlement”

  1. I agree, in the video they did not look like I was expecting. I thought a few of the places were somewhat random, but the first place made sense to me. But if indeed somebody saw one during the daytime with wires coming out of it, I believe the result is appropriate.

  2. It was kind of funny that earlier today you replied to someone in class saying that ignorance shouldn’t be rewarded. Just because someone didn’t know they were breaking the law doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be punished, or else everyone would use that as a defense whenever it applied saying that they didn’t know they were breaking the law.

    In this article, you say that “stupidity is not a crime” and that they can’t be charged criminally for their foolish behavior. I’m really not sure if what they did was a crime, but I do think that they should be punished if their act (even if it was because they’re just plain stupid).

  3. This YouTube video has clearly been tailored towards showing the public the harmless and cartoonish nature of the “fake bombs” and thus the “inappropriate” police response. However, those that were in Boston during the few hours when no one had conclusive information (and all we heard was the word “bomb”) can say that it is not something that we would want repeated. So even if the criminal charges are lessened (and settlements are made) the important point was made and is out there: marketing companies can not do whatever they feel like without repercussions. It is important for them to realize this and anticipate obvious negative externalities they may spur with their new breed of campaigning.

  4. The posts recently have demonstrated incredible hindsight vision. It’s so easy to sit here and criticize the company now. Why couldnt they put the pieces together? Boxes with lights, wires dangling from the side, and a cryptic symbol on the front… how stupid were they?!

    I must be in the good graces of the same people who predicted the tech bubble bursting (because the valuations were way out of wack, how obvious), the run up of oil the last 3 years (because of emerging markets developing and needing more natural resources, how obvious), and George Mason making it to the NCAA Final Four last year (no brainer, how obvious)…

    It’s sickening how often we hear, “In the post 9/11 world, XYZ is unnacceptable.” Does anyone realize that technically we’re going to be in the post 9/11 world…FOREVER? Why dont we just stop calling it the year 2007 C.E. and call it year 5-post 9/11? Are we never going to live normal lives again? I dont mean to trivialize the threat of terrorism or the severity of the attacks. But come on! The reaction to these boxes is UNBELIEVABLE!!! The outrage by the city. I think citizens should be more outraged about how the Celtics have been playing this season.

    There are so many more important things going on…There is now a treatment for Macular degeneration (the most common cause of blindness in the world). Scientists have discovered Resveratrol an ingredient in wine that has substantially increased the longevity and quality of life in mice (it could potentially increase life expectancies in humans past the age 100). If I want to be grim, there’s still a war in Iraq, there’s Bush trying to narrow the gov’t deficit by targetting the tax gap (does anyone else find this to be as ridiculous as I do?), OH YAH, AND THERE’S A PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION THAT’S HEATING UP.

    Maybe the knuckleheads are on to something. Maybe they’re the ones who have a grasp of reality and perspective and the rest of the stiffs in Boston are the ones who have it backwards.

    David Randall, shame on you for fixating on such a ridiculous topic. With all the interesting global and legal issues in the world, you have now had 3 entrees about this bullshit.

  5. To put things in perspective, enough is going on in the world to keep people occupied. And yes! The Celtics have been playing awfully. Its nice to know we have someone come in and summarize it for us. But if on a given day, a makeshift device with wires blatantly protruding happens to detonate, Boston PD will get nailed for being negligent. That’s the heat the NYPD got for 9/11. Senior Hustler, every threat is viable because your enemy does not show up in military garb, touting an AK-47 and burning the star spangled banner. Don’t live in fear but fearlessness shouldn’t engender recklessness. Think about it.

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