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Author Topic: 9th Grader Arrested for Bringing a Clock to School
TomDavidson
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My point is that this description comes after he has been primed by hours of interrogation on the topic of why he'd bring such a suspicious-looking device to school. That he even felt the need to explain why he closed the case is almost certainly a direct result of stupid questions on the topic; it would have been more remarkable had he not done so.

There's a reason that we question confessions obtained from interrogations without a lawyer present; it is very easy for people to be bullied into conflating their narrative with the desired one. All it takes is one cop saying something like "I'm sure you didn't want to worry anyone, Ahmed; no doubt that's why you hid it away, right?" This is why real detectives roll their eyes at Sherlock Holmes; rarely can you trust the single incriminating detail or comment.

[ October 03, 2015, 03:02 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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LetterRip
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scifibum,

was it plugged in or was it battery powered at the time?

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LetterRip
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Fenring,

quote:
Tom, do you really need me to link the video and mark the minute and second when he says to the camera that he sealed the case so that it wouldn't look suspicious?
The brain integrates new information into memories, so what he said in an interview after extensive interviews and questions suggesting it looked suspicious isn't necessarily the reason he actually did it initially. So it is possible that was 'why he did it' initially, but it isn't reasonable to assume that was the actual reason at the time.

Almost all explanations for behavior are confabulations, and our actual reasons are rarely known to ourselves for the majority of behavior (our brain is basically two separate people - one which does most of our actions and behaviors, and other that observes these behaviors and comes up with a story to explain them - occasionally the observer brain can give input and influence that behavioral brain, but that isn't the default of how things work.)

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Fenring
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What the two of you say about memory being unreliable in indeed true. But now you're suggesting that Ahmed's own memory of his intention is inaccurate. This is possible, but I don't see how a narrative of "he was clueless the whole time" is aided by having to suggest that his claim of knowing it looked suspicious was an erroneous memory. Maybe it was, but that means taking what he says with a grain of salt. Once you're going down that road, who gets to determine which of his statements should be doubted and which should be considered as indisputable facts?

Since I already doubt some of his comments I don't have a particular problem agreeing with you that his is an unreliable witness. But if that's so then much of the narrative that makes him look totally innocent has to be thrown out as well.

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TomDavidson
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Why? None of that narrative depends on his statements at all.
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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
Why? None of that narrative depends on his statements at all.

Your entire narrative is contingent on Ahmed's claim that his intent was to bring the 'clock' to impress his teacher with his 'invention.'
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TomDavidson
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No. He could have never said anything except what his teachers said he said to them, and that narrative would still be intact. It does not depend at all on his own story.
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scifibum
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quote:
Originally posted by Fenring:

quote:
Also, maybe this was already pointed out before, but in what universe does a police officer oblige a photo op request to put handcuffs back on? Especially if they think a suspect is being "uncooperative". They just humor him?
This is a reasonable question to ask, but it's dwarfed in noteworthiness compared to them asking for it in the first place. [/QB]
I am suggesting that it is not true that they asked for the handcuffs to be put back on, because it is not believable that the police would comply.
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AI Wessex
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I would also like someone to explain how his father was a trouble maker and whether his sister credibly received a 3-day suspension for talking about blowing up a school.
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Wayward Son
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quote:
Have you seen it? Looks like an IED. Yes. Very reasonable to arrest someone who takes something that looks like that into a school or airport, if they can't provide a good reason. It might be a bomb, or an intentional bomb threat.
Pete, can you do me a favor? Look at that picture of the clock. Now take a standard sheet of paper and draw it to scale.

Don't worry, you got plenty of room. The length of the long side of the pencil box fits nicely along the short edge of the paper (8 inches along the 8.5 inch edge). The short side of the pencil box won't even reach the half-way point along the long side of the paper. Now fill in the clockworks in that area.

How much room is left for explosives? [Wink]

The science teacher looked at the clock, and all he saw was a clock. If he had seen a bomb, or something that looked sorta like a bomb, he would have at least held it until the end of the day. Perhaps something that may have looked odd, or be considered disruptive, but not a bomb.

If the first person who sees it doesn't think it is a bomb, why would you think anyone else would?

And if you think someone would think it was a bomb, why show it to the one person most likely to know it isn't but still might recognize it looked like one?

The only reasonable explanation is that Ahmed didn't think it looked like a bomb. The only responsible explanation for the science teacher allowing Ahmed to carry the clock around the school for the rest of the day is that he didn't think it looked like a bomb, either.

Ahmed's actions fit his story. The administration's and police's actions are an overreaction based on an unreasonable fear.

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JoshCrow
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Several other reasonable explanations have been presented, Wayward. Your analysis is no more or less reliant on motive speculating than anyone else.

I think your argument may sound nice with the benefit of hindsight, but I also think it is not wildly unreasonable for someone to not interpret such an ambiguous-looking device as harmless. For all we know, Ahmed simply shopped it around until he found such a person. We cannot assume people are all rational actors - economics has learned that lesson lately. People do dumb things (especially at 14). Sitting here arguing that there is "only one reasonable explanation" is malarky.

And, for the record, Richard Reid managed to fit a bomb in his shoe.

[ October 05, 2015, 11:25 AM: Message edited by: JoshCrow ]

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Wayward Son
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quote:
HE KNEW IT LOOKED LIKE A BOMB. 100%, he knew, period full stop end of discussion not up for debate.

How do we know he knew? Because THE TEACHER TOLD HIM.

Jason, could you please provide the exact quote of what the teacher told him? I haven't seen it yet.

Because I THINK YOU ARE WRONG. If Ahmed has brought an old-style alarm clock wired to a couple of flares, I don't think the science teacher would have told him to keep it in his backpack and not show anyone. [Wink] I think he would only have let him carry it around if he thought it DIDN'T look like a bomb, but it might be confusicated for other reasons.

So, since you are so 100 percent sure the teacher told him it looked like a bomb, could you please provide the quote? Because I don't think it exists. I think you are reading too much into the science teacher's "warning" (whatever it was) not to show it to others.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by D.W.:
Pyrtolin,
Preventing an event, regardless of it's likelihood, when that event is a bomb scare in a school is, without a doubt, a justified and prudent decision.

Failure to eliminate even the slightest possibility of a bomb scare in a school when presented with the opportunity to do so is gross negligence to the point I would issue a warning if not suspend the staffer.


So you're saying that we should have all kids doing TSA like checks on the way into schools? Taking off their shoes, backscatter x-rays, no bottles over 1oz, the whole nine yards? Because that's what a serious attempt to remove the impression of a threat takes. Not confiscating something that anyone with an ounce of common sense should be able to tell isn't a bomb, unless you're so unable to separate fantasy from reality that you can't tell a dramatic prop from an actual explosive.

I mean, by the logic that this might look like a bomb because it was in a hip, modern style case, you've got most of the musician in school needing to surrender their instruments as well.al inegrity to shape an effective explosion. And that's not getting to the complete lack of anything explosive.

quote:

The previously linked article made it sound like he has already been in contact with teachers explaining the world to him as if he is an adult. Breaking him of the naivete that lead him to bring this device to school at all, is doing him a favor. Doing so with handcuffs and police however is unfortunate and in many ways offensive.

What naivete? That there are people out there that will make up a scare to harass and hassle him just, effectively, for the hell of it? I could see kids his age jumping to conclusions, but then he knew enough not to sow it to any of them for just that reason. The teacher knew better as well, even but called the cops to hassle him (instead of actually taking any action appropriate for a bomb threat)

It wasn't reasonable to believe that there would be any kind of actual bomb suspicion arising from it, perhaps just wrong impressions from kids being impulsive and poorly informed. What got him in trouble was a teacher that went out of his way to inflate the issue despite knowing very well that there was no actual threat, something that was and should be, out of the range of reasonable expectations.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
The administration's and police's actions are an overreaction based on an unreasonable fear.
NOt out of fear- in order to create some level of fear and assert authority. They didn't react as if they were afraid of the bomb, The acted like they wanted to hassle someone that they felt needed to be taught a lesson.
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Wayward Son
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quote:
For all we know, Ahmed simply shopped it around until he found such a person. We cannot assume people are all rational actors - economics has learned that lesson lately.
But once again, why show it to the engineering/science teacher first? [Confused]

I mean, she was the one most likely to know it wasn't a bomb. And she was as likely as anyone else to confiscate it because it looked like a bomb. So show it to her first, unless he thought it didn't look like a bomb?

And if the science teacher didn't think it looked like a bomb, why would he believe anyone else would think so? [Wink]

quote:
Your analysis is no more or less reliant on motive speculating than anyone else.
But everyone is accusing Ahmed of intentionally bringing in something he knew looked like a bomb to scare people and incite an incident. Isn't that pretty much motive speculation right there? [Confused]
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Isn't that pretty much motive speculation right there?
Sure- but my understanding is that the rule against is is a conversational restriction, not a general one. Don't speculate about the motives of the people you're having a discussion with, speculation about the motives of political and media figures that aren't actually participating is a different ball of wax.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Several other reasonable explanations have been presented, Wayward.
I don't think any of those other "reasonable" explanations are informed by anything resembling an understanding of human nature, actually.
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D.W.
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I'm against frisking and regular/daily exposure to x-ray scans in schools. Torn on the metal detector question. Did I miss any other extrapolations you feel I should address? I'll prepare my hammer and pitons to help us navigate the slippery slope.
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JoshCrow
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quote:
Originally posted by Wayward Son:
quote:
HE KNEW IT LOOKED LIKE A BOMB. 100%, he knew, period full stop end of discussion not up for debate.

How do we know he knew? Because THE TEACHER TOLD HIM.

Jason, could you please provide the exact quote of what the teacher told him? I haven't seen it yet.

Because I THINK YOU ARE WRONG. If Ahmed has brought an old-style alarm clock wired to a couple of flares, I don't think the science teacher would have told him to keep it in his backpack and not show anyone. [Wink] I think he would only have let him carry it around if he thought it DIDN'T look like a bomb, but it might be confusicated for other reasons.

So, since you are so 100 percent sure the teacher told him it looked like a bomb, could you please provide the quote? Because I don't think it exists. I think you are reading too much into the science teacher's "warning" (whatever it was) not to show it to others.

Wayward, can you provide a "non bomb-related" rationale for why the teacher would have advised him not to show it to other teachers?

In the absence of a quote, all we have is this behavior from the teacher. But you have done little to suggest alternatives to the most obvious reason.

I can provide a possible rationale why he didn't confiscate it: because he believed Ahmed was a good kid and would listen to him, combined with a general desire not to take things from people.

[ October 05, 2015, 02:21 PM: Message edited by: JoshCrow ]

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JoshCrow
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
Several other reasonable explanations have been presented, Wayward.
I don't think any of those other "reasonable" explanations are informed by anything resembling an understanding of human nature, actually.
Considering the incredible variety of the human experience, which contains everything from hippie flower children to school-shooting maniacs, I don't see how you can make this claim. You appear to be saying "humans don't do that sort of thing", but I'll bet there's evidence to the contrary.

[ October 05, 2015, 02:17 PM: Message edited by: JoshCrow ]

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TomDavidson
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I would be very intrigued by any such evidence, I admit.
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Wayward Son
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quote:
Wayward, can you provide a "non bomb-related" rationale for why the teacher would have advised him not to show it to other teachers?
1. School policy was not bring "toys" from home. Another teacher might think it was a toy and take it from him.

2. Another teacher might ask him what it was, and he would have to spend time explaining it was a clock, wasting everyone's time.

The thing is, if the science teacher seriously believed, after looking at it, that other teachers would think it was a bomb, why didn't she grab it right then and there. Why let him carry it around for the rest of the day? Does anyone really think she thought she was doing him a favor by letting him keep something that looked like a bomb? [Eek!]

She obviously didn't think it looked very much like a bomb. She obviously didn't expect anyone to call the bomb squad and have him arrested. Apparently, it didn't look that much like a bomb to her, so what could she have said to give Ahmed the impression that it really did look like a bomb?

In order for the science teacher to tell Ahmed that he should keep it hidden because it looked like a bomb would mean that she recognized it looked like a bomb. And if it really looked like a bomb, why didn't she just grab it right then and there?

The most she probably told Ahmed would be that it could look "suspicious," but obviously not enough to be confused with a bomb. So he would not be 100 percent certain that anyone else would think it was a bomb. Which means he could not have expected anyone to make a big deal over it.

Which also means he was not coached to make a fake bomb. Which also means he did not bring it to school with the intention of scaring anyone with a fake bomb.

The science teacher told him not to show it to other people, but we don't know if the word "bomb" was used, and we don't know if he expected anyone to be scared by it. It obviously was not scary enough to frighten the science teacher; it is unlikely he would have then thought it would be scary enough to frighten anyone else.

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Fenring
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I wonder why phrases such as "frighten the science teacher" and "intentionally bringing in something he knew looked like a bomb to scare people" keep being repeated? Who here do you think you're arguing against?

A teacher being afraid or not afraid is irrelevant to this issue. Whether or not the police were afraid is irrelevant to this issue. Whether Ahmed may have wanted to scare people, make people laugh, or whatever else, is irrelevant to the particular claims being made here. None of that speaks to whether the kid knew it looked suspicious, and whether the teacher thought it did too and told him to put it away.

When I was in New York we often had to determine what to do if a theatre piece called for a gun. In a performance you'd have to acquire a licensed prop that was legally a firearm, and for rehearsals it would be harder. The reason is that fake or even toy guns are banned in NYC; they even pulled the stupid red plastic guns from stores years ago. If a kid were to bring a toy red gun to school and I was a teacher and saw it I would a) know immediately there was no literal threat to anyone, and b) also know that this was something that was both illegal and could be construed as a threat in certain circumstances (maybe if wielded in a darkish room, or pulled suddenly). I would know it had no place in a school, but I would not be afraid. If the police caught a kid with a toy or fake gun in school, they wouldn't be afraid of the toy either but the kid would be arrested or suspended or whatever all the same. But it's not because they would be 'afraid' of a shooting. And by the way I know someone who was arrested for having a fake gun on a film set so this isn't some technicality that would never really happen.

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JoshCrow
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
I would be very intrigued by any such evidence, I admit.

Before I go digging, let me ask you this: hypothetically, if I found one or more instances where a student perpetrated a school bomb hoax, would I not have demonstrated that it falls within the spectrum of human behavior?
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JoshCrow
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Blurp *edited*

[ October 05, 2015, 04:55 PM: Message edited by: JoshCrow ]

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JoshCrow
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I also found this:
quote:
Mohamed was viewed by teachers at his middle-school school as an electronics enthusiast with a history of being disciplined following various incidents. Among such incidents was using a hand made remote control to cause a classroom projector to malfunction on command.
I think this provides some evidence for the theory that he intended to provoke a response (although I doubt he wanted to be punished - sometimes kids just misbehave for attention).
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TomDavidson
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quote:
hypothetically, if I found one or more instances where a student perpetrated a school bomb hoax, would I not have demonstrated that it falls within the spectrum of human behavior?
No.
The question is not whether some student somewhere might want to make a hoax bomb.

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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by JoshCrow:
I also found this:
quote:
Mohamed was viewed by teachers at his middle-school school as an electronics enthusiast with a history of being disciplined following various incidents. Among such incidents was using a hand made remote control to cause a classroom projector to malfunction on command.
I think this provides some evidence for the theory that he intended to provoke a response (although I doubt he wanted to be punished - sometimes kids just misbehave for attention).
I wasn't going to bother mentioning it since this quote really isn't conclusive, but here's what a former teacher has to say about Ahmed:

quote:
A former teacher of the teenage Muslim student who was arrested after his homemade clock was mistaken for a bomb said he was “a weird little kid.”

“I saw a lot of him in me,” Ralph Kubiak, Ahmed Mohamed’s seventh-grade history teacher at Sam Houston Middle School, told The Dallas Morning News. “I saw a lot of him in me. That thirst for knowledge … he’s one of those kids that could either be CEO of a company or head of a gang.”

quote:
Kubiak told The Morning news that Ahmed would constantly get into trouble and received weeks’ worth of suspensions from the school.

“I love him dearly, but sometimes it got to be a little much,” Kubiak said of Ahmed’s non-stop talking. “He just went on and on.”

The teacher recalled when Ahmed tried to get out of detention by reciting the First Amendment to the principal. He ended up getting a Saturday detention for doing it.

I read elsewhere that Ahmed was suspended for a few days for the remote control prank that JoshCrow mentioned. Overall it looks like maybe he's a bit of a prankster/joker who periodically gets detention or suspensions for going over the line. Ahmed's parents have maintained that Ahmed didn't deserve the punishments.

Since I personally received detention in school for irrelevant trivia (like making a joke in class), it doesn't seem surprising to me that he should receive negative attention from the administration for pranking a teacher's presentation or for giving lip to the principal by reciting the first amendment over a detention.

It's looking more like jasonr's guess may have been right (that he's a wise***), but I still hope we may learn more than will give us clearer answers.

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by JoshCrow:
I also found this:
quote:
Mohamed was viewed by teachers at his middle-school school as an electronics enthusiast with a history of being disciplined following various incidents. Among such incidents was using a hand made remote control to cause a classroom projector to malfunction on command.
I think this provides some evidence for the theory that he intended to provoke a response (although I doubt he wanted to be punished - sometimes kids just misbehave for attention).
And we should absolutely arrest them when they do.
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AI Wessex
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quote:
And we should absolutely arrest them when they do.
Can we also make an example of him and insult his intelligence and speculate on his motivations if someone well known takes up his side of the kerfuffle?
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JoshCrow
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quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:
quote:
And we should absolutely arrest them when they do.
Can we also make an example of him and insult his intelligence and speculate on his motivations if someone well known takes up his side of the kerfuffle?
Can we also use him to support our larger political agenda?
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AI Wessex
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He's got no other life at this point.
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jasonr
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quote:
I don't think any of those other "reasonable" explanations are informed by anything resembling an understanding of human nature, actually.
Teenaged boys are dicks. There's your human nature.

Given his apparent history of this exact sort of joke (not "hoax", not "prank", but "joke" ) yeah, it's looking increasingly likely that my original guess was correct.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Given his apparent history of this exact sort of joke
I own a universal remote that I occasionally use to screw with TVs at bars and airports. What about that is the "exact sort of joke" involved in a bomb threat?
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JoshCrow
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Jason's point was that it wasn't intended as a "bomb threat". It was just an attention-getting joke by a kid (ho ho, let's see if I can fool someone. Hey, I'll make it beep in class and get attention for sure!).

If you don't "get" the joke maybe that speaks well of you. I went to school with a yutz who would have done something just like this.

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Fenring
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Why are we still speaking about bomb threats? Zero people have mentioned that, and yet it keeps being 'refuted.'
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TomDavidson
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quote:
It was just an attention-getting joke by a kid...
Surely he could simply have said the word "beep" very loudly and achieved the same end.

Think about it: if it's not an imitation bomb, what's the appeal of making a random, easily-traceable beep? If you're going to prank your teachers with a beep, buy one of those little magnetic annoy-o-tron kits that you can stick to the bottom of a desk drawer or something.

Honestly, it's like none of you were ever remotely class clowns. *laugh*

There is a world of difference between controlling the class projector and producing a beeping noise from your own backpack, joke-wise. I mean, can you imagine how lame it would be if someone just sat in class, pushing the beeping buttons on his old Timex watch? That's not a joke; that's nerd aggression.

[ October 05, 2015, 10:50 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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JoshCrow
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I'm not saying his plan was ingenious. [Smile] It's marginally more creative than the usual kid with a laser pointer.
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Fenring
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I was a class clown, and I'll explain to you what the joke would be, hypothetically.

The kid first shows the apparatus to the science teacher to gauge whether it successfully has been made to look vaguely suspicious. The teacher confirms it has and tells Ahmed to maybe put it away. With confirmation that it looks the way it was intended to Ahmed sets the alarm to go off in class.

The next step of the joke will be for the alarm to go off in class, and for the teacher to inevitably ask Ahmed to take whatever it is out of the bag and reveal it. The 'money shot' is coming up right after this.

When the 'clock' is removed from the bag there will be a moment of uncertainty on the teacher's face reflective of the thought "what...the hell...is that?" where Ahmed's Muslim reputation and the fact of a beeping unknown thing will immediately jump into everyone's minds for a moment. This isn't funny yet, but it's humor foreplay and will build the tension. Then when Ahmed opens the case and it looks at first glance like a bomb there will be a second or two of people thinking their silly suspicion was actually correct, at which point (not to drag things out and actually terrify people) Ahmed would announce "No! It's just a clock, see!" at which point everyone sighs, and the teacher is predictably annoyed, saying something like "Oh, you!" while Ahmed laughs at having 'got them'.

Ahmed claims he had previously been bullied for being Muslim, and we assume from this (whether or not that's true) that it was well known he was Muslim. This knowledge would play into the paranoia of his classmates and teacher and allow them to fall for the trick momentarily, just long enough for him to get a good laugh.

The predictable fallout from such a joke, from his perspective, might have been another brief suspension, which he likely would have found acceptable and worth it for the joke. In a way such a joke would carry some irony with it, as it would play into anti-Muslim paranoia and deliver to people exactly what they suspect of Muslims without admitting it.

Now just remember that this is hypothetical and is nothing more than an explanation of why this would be funny. I am quite sure this would be funny to someone, both for pulling a fast one on his class as well as the good old scare followed by undermining the cause of fear to be replaced with exasperation afterwards. I used to try to scare my parents all the time, and they hated it and I found it hilarious. The punishments that followed did not ever dissuade me in the slightest. Also note that in this scenario the joke would be 'on them' so the only person who would find it funny would be Ahmed, but this only makes it more of a prank than a 'class clown' thing, the latter of which is often to amuse others.

[ October 06, 2015, 12:05 AM: Message edited by: Fenring ]

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Wayward Son
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quote:
The kid first shows the apparatus to the science teacher to gauge whether it successfully has been made to look vaguely suspicious. The teacher confirms it has and tells Ahmed to maybe put it away. With confirmation that it looks the way it was intended to Ahmed sets the alarm to go off in class.
But how would you pull this first step off? How you would make it suspicious enough so that it might be confused for something dangerous, but not enough so that the science teacher would immediately confiscate it?

Wouldn't it be better to show it to the English teacher first, a person you wouldn't expect to immediately recognize that it was harmless? Why would you take the risk of the first step at all? [Confused]

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