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Author Topic: 9th Grader Arrested for Bringing a Clock to School
AI Wessex
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Why are we even entertaining the notion that this might have been a bomb? The right raises a bizarre conspiracy or threat claim, and everyone else has to debate the point to find some kind of middle ground. He's a kid, it was a damn clock.
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Wayward Son
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quote:
Now google up "suitcase bomb" and see what those look like.
There are just a few things different between those imagine and what the kid made.

1. They were suitcases, not small pencil cases that could fit in your pants' pocket.

2. They had bombs (you know, things that explode) in them.

3. None of them had a display on the outside, showing the time.

4. I didn't notice any of them needing to be plugged in to work. [Smile]

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Wayward Son
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quote:
Of course, he's the perfect type for Obama. How about these 9 other kids? No political upside for them.
Well, those other kids didn't get the publicity that this one did. And (except maybe for the one who was recording the bullying), they weren't doing things that we usually encourage kids to do (like learn about electronics).

But, yes, it was mainly the racist overtones of this incident that probably attracted the President's attention. Racism has become a big issue in recent months. And Obama is sympathetic about racism because of the racism inflicted on him. I mean, why else would people imply that Obama is only interested in this incident because the kid was Mulsim if Obama didn't happen to be black? [Wink]

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NobleHunter
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Even the school and the police aren't claiming it was a bomb. They're claiming it was something built to look like a bomb. It's vaguely less idiotic than claiming it was a bomb but not by much.
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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by D.W.:
Being overly cautious is not something I would fault a school for. This seemed more like trying to teach a kid a lesson for inadvertantly scaring people.

If they really thought it was a bomb, they handled it wrong. If they knew it wasn't a bomb, they handled it wrong.

The only gray area for me is if they thought it was likely PART of a bomb. In that case, the police could have handled it better.

This. If they really thought it could be a bomb, they should have evacuated and called the bomb squad. If they didn't, they are just being jerks.
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jasonr
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Note I am not condoning the stupid overreaction of the authorities. I am simply pointing out the possibility that the kid was playing a joke with this thing - i.e. he knew full well that some people would find the device somewhat threatening/ suspicious. Indeed the article states that the science teacher specifically brought this to his attention and yet he still had the thing in class...

Like I said - wise ass.

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NobleHunter
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Where else was he supposed to have it? Being 14 it seems unlikely he could take it home in a reasonable amount of time. Leaving it in his locker raised the risk of someone else finding it and it being treated like "unattended luggage." Absent the science teacher holding on to it, keeping it with him was probably the best way to ensure nobody panicked. Unfortunately, people got stupid instead.
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jasonr
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Noble it probably would have been fine in his locker. My point being he probably brought it into class deliberately. He knew what it looked like. His science teacher already warned him. He was being a typical 14 year old wise ass who underestimated post 911 paranoia and bureaucratic idiocy.
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Wayward Son
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How do you know he had a locker? [Wink]

Practically all of the public schools here in California have had their lockers removed, or are simply not used. My son never had a locker at school.

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NobleHunter
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quote:
Noble it probably would have been fine in his locker. My point being he probably brought it into class deliberately. He knew what it looked like. His science teacher already warned him. He was being a typical 14 year old wise ass who underestimated post 911 paranoia and bureaucratic idiocy.
Except it was apparently beeping unexpectedly. So it might not have been fine in his locker and the response would have almost certainly been worse had it been discovered there. The fact that he kept it with him is the strongest argument against it being a 'deliberate' hoax bomb.

You must have a very poor opinion of 14 year olds. I don't see anything in the story that supports your assertions.

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LetterRip
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Looks like someone did the legwork to figure out what clock it was he used,

http://blogs.artvoice.com/techvoice/2015/09/17/reverse-engineering-ahmed-mohameds-clock-and-ourselves/

So as I said previously he did a casemod, not a building a clock.

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Rafi
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From above link:
quote:
I refer back again to this YouTube video interview with Ahmed. He explains that he closed up the box with a piece of cord because he didn’t want it to look suspicious. I’m curious, why would “looking suspicious” have even crossed his mind before this whole event unfolded, if he was truly showing off a hobby project, something so innocuous as an alarm clock. Why did he choose a pencil box, one that looks like a miniature briefcase no less, as an enclosure for a clock?
So yeah, he knew this thing looked suspicious too.
quote:
Why did he choose a pencil box, one that looks like a miniature briefcase no less, as an enclosure for a clock? It’s awful hard to see the clock with the case closed.

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LetterRip
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It looks like typical garage sale finds - the pencil box is dented, so probably parts were picked on the basis of cheap/free.

Me and a buddy disassembled a TV around the same age - we were lucky we didn't kill ourselves by shorting a capacitor.

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jasonr
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quote:
The fact that he kept it with him is the strongest argument against it being a 'deliberate' hoax bomb.
You are misunderstanding my point. I don't suggest that he intended the box to be a hoax bomb, like some kind of serious bomb threat.

Rather, he clearly knew what it looked like, may even have deliberately made it look that way, and brought it into class for the express purpose of provoking a reaction from his teachers. Hahahah I brought a bomb to school, tick tock tick tock.

Exactly what I'd expect from a 14 year old. I would have thought it was funny when I was his age. Imagine the look on the teacher's face when she uncovered his "clock" in the middle of class. Hilarious. Less a hoax and more of a joke really.

[ September 19, 2015, 03:02 PM: Message edited by: jasonr ]

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Fenring
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Conspiracy theory says it was a deliberate hoax to get his family attention. More moderate version says he's being dishonest about it being so innocent. In the interview with him he pretty much lied about how he made it. When asked directly if he assembled it himself he said "yes." He said he thought it would impress his teachers. Except that he didn't actually do anything other than take a clock out of its casing and put it in a box, which a 7 year old could do. Very 'impressive.'

Best case scenario he's a total moron and scared people for no reason. Worst case scenario is the conspiracy theory; jasonr seems to be taking the middle ground on this.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Best case scenario he's a total moron and scared people for no reason.
The best-case scenario is that this kid is a "total moron?"

Man, you guys are really being driven by bias and ugly groupthink into some nasty places. [Frown]

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AI Wessex
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The best case scenario is to take the event at face value, that he built a clock and brought it to school to show his teacher. Everything Fenring and Jason surmise that says otherwise is based entirely on fantasy and a will to demonize him from a distance where you only know what the opinion-based media you listen to and read tell you. I'm saddened and even a little sickened by the way you are buying into the right wing scaremongering media and trying to manufacture a grievance against the boy.

Imagine, just for a second, that you didn't know the boy was black or a Muslim. Would that change the "best case" and make the clock just a clock and the boy something better than a total moron?

[ September 19, 2015, 05:20 PM: Message edited by: AI Wessex ]

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Mynnion
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Heck I played with minor explosives at that age. I wouldn't have taken them to school but I think you are giving a kid that age way too much credit. Most of the kids I know that age really don't think through things that deeply.
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AI Wessex
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Same with me, though we were encouraged to bring our little experiments into school for Friday "show and tell" sessions right through middle school. Now a good student is apparently one who sits passively and blends with the herd.
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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
Best case scenario he's a total moron and scared people for no reason.
The best-case scenario is that this kid is a "total moron?"

Man, you guys are really being driven by bias and ugly groupthink into some nasty places. [Frown]

The kid was raised in the post-9-11 world. Kids know much of what we do even though we think of them as 'just kids.' They know the drill about airport security, bomb threats, school shootings, and so forth. If he truly didn't see the 'movie bomb' resemblance in advance then I'd say he's a total moron, yeah. Also based on his responses to question he also does strike me as dull in the head. And this is giving him full credit in honesty. I don't see a situation in which he was a bright young guy who did a special project and never thought it would be trouble.
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NobleHunter
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AI, jasonr seems to have based his opinion solely on the kid's age.
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JoshCrow
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quote:
Originally posted by NobleHunter:
AI, jasonr seems to have based his opinion solely on the kid's age.

I doubt it - I know exactly the kind of wise-ass kid Jason suspects this kid is. The more I read about the situation, the more I think he may be right. The fact that the thing started beeping in the middle of class tells me this was someone who wants attention - the same way there's always that guy with the laser pointer on the screen at a show.

I think the big joke will be on those who assume this kid is super-smart and make him some kind of legitimate career/educational offer. I think the White House invite is a mistake as well.

[ September 19, 2015, 07:59 PM: Message edited by: JoshCrow ]

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Fenring
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It was a normal radio alarm clock, and so if it was beeping that most likely means he set it to beep! Think about that for a moment.
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LetterRip
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Fenring,

that is the thing that has bothered me about the scenario - but I have some potential innocuous explanations

1) he may have tested the alarm on a weekend and thus the set time of the alarm wasn't really set to go off in the classroom, but for when he initially tested it

2) he had demonstrated the alarm to the engineering instructor and hit snooze instead of turned off the alarm earlier in the day

3) temporary jarring of the battery reset the alarm clock causing it to go off

4) he left everything at the defaults the day before and the alarm was defaulted to go off

I do think the intentional disruption theory is slightly more likely, but the above are all plausible.

[ September 19, 2015, 09:17 PM: Message edited by: LetterRip ]

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TomDavidson
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quote:
The kid was raised in the post-9-11 world.
So was mine. And she would never consider the possibility that someone would think that something she'd built was a bomb. It would literally never occur to her, and I don't want to raise the kind of child to whom it would occur.

quote:
It was a normal radio alarm clock, and so if it was beeping that most likely means he set it to beep!
Leaving aside the fact that we don't know when it was beeping, or how often, it should also be noted that the case design doesn't appear to include alarm controls. So I think it's entirely possible that it was beeping because he didn't give himself an easy way to turn it off.
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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
It was a normal radio alarm clock, and so if it was beeping that most likely means he set it to beep!
Leaving aside the fact that we don't know when it was beeping, or how often, it should also be noted that the case design doesn't appear to include alarm controls. So I think it's entirely possible that it was beeping because he didn't give himself an easy way to turn it off.
Yes that is certainly possible, as are the scenarios LetterRip described. We'll probably never know, but the scenario does raise questions that (for me) mire the narrative of him as a wrongly accused victim. Maybe he is, but something is off. The moment I heard him lie about having built it himself I knew something was off, because if he actually had built it himself the story about trying to impress his teacher might hold. Since he didn't build it I don't buy the story about it all being about impressing his teacher; he didn't do anything other than use a screwdriver and maybe some glue.
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AI Wessex
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quote:
I doubt it - I know exactly the kind of wise-ass kid Jason suspects this kid is. The more I read about the situation, the more I think he may be right. The fact that the thing started beeping in the middle of class tells me this was someone who wants attention - the same way there's always that guy with the laser pointer on the screen at a show.
Based on what evidence?
quote:
Also based on his responses to question he also does strike me as dull in the head.
What responses? Please cite.
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LetterRip
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He probably used a drill to mount the display (drill through the case, and then throughbolt the display on).

He may have had to do some soldering to repair lose wiring, or to shorten or lengthen some wiring.

He did actually show it to his engineering instructor which is consistent with 'trying to impress the instructor'.

[ September 19, 2015, 10:59 PM: Message edited by: LetterRip ]

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JoshCrow
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quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:
quote:
I doubt it - I know exactly the kind of wise-ass kid Jason suspects this kid is. The more I read about the situation, the more I think he may be right. The fact that the thing started beeping in the middle of class tells me this was someone who wants attention - the same way there's always that guy with the laser pointer on the screen at a show.
Based on what evidence?
quote:
Also based on his responses to question he also does strike me as dull in the head.
What responses? Please cite.

For starters, these comments from Mark Cuban suggest that his answers are being coached.

Watch this video of Ahmed talking in an interview... which is BIZARRELY edited around his comments in a horribly sloppy way (really, it almost calls to mind an old Simpsons parody).

I truly suspect he's actually the opposite of gifted. Not merely because his clock isn't his invention, but because his responses are those of a dullard, not a sharp 14 year old.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Since he didn't build it I don't buy the story about it all being about impressing his teacher...
Do you actually know any teenagers? Or high school teachers?

Because while there are some genuinely brilliant kids out there, these are few and far between; the vast majority are simply reasonably bright. And I'll tell you straight up: most freshmen nerds in high school would not only expect to impress a teacher by taking apart and rehoming a clock, but they would be correct in that expectation.

Tinkering is rare enough that anyone who does it -- from kids who put Nintendo DS handhelds into small console cabinets to kids who put cellphones into old Nokia bodies -- actually get views and Twitter followers.

From what I can tell, this kid wanted to take something electronic and formerly inscrutable apart and put it back together in a different box, and did so mostly successfully. I know a lot of high school nerds -- both in my generation and the current one -- who felt the same impulse.

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LetterRip
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JoshCrow,

it sounds like he is talkative and engaged when discussing technical stuff and awkward and unengaged when talking about non technical stuff. That isn't an uncommon pattern among geeks.

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JoshCrow
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:


From what I can tell, this kid wanted to take something electronic and formerly inscrutable apart and put it back together in a different box, and did so mostly successfully.

Sorry, but in the age where nobody even wears a watch anymore (sorry, Apple) because everyone's phones tell the time, there is no more plausible explanation for putting a big clock into a metal case than "I wanted it to look like a Hollywood bomb". In fact, the only reason to change the casing of something is cosmetic. Think about that. He knew what he wanted it to look like, and was specific about it, and about touring it around to get reactions.

I'm very interested to hear from other kids in his class just what kind of guy is, and what they think his motives were.

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JoshCrow
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
JoshCrow,

it sounds like he is talkative and engaged when discussing technical stuff and awkward and unengaged when talking about non technical stuff. That isn't an uncommon pattern among geeks.

What technical stuff did he "discuss"? He used the word "motherboard", I suppose. None of that conversation was even remotely technical.

[ September 19, 2015, 11:42 PM: Message edited by: JoshCrow ]

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scifibum
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I don't understand why you think the kid was lying just because what he did wasn't worthy of winning a science fair. So what if he's no genius? What Tom said.

Also: wanting some attention doesn't make him a bad kid and doesn't mean he thought he was going to scare people (or that he thought it was funny).

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TomDavidson
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quote:
in the age where nobody even wears a watch anymore (sorry, Apple) because everyone's phones tell the time, there is no more plausible explanation for putting a big clock into a metal case than "I wanted it to look like a Hollywood bomb"
Frankly, I think you have a very skewed and not remotely accurate picture of human nature, and should not be considered an authority on plausibility.

I remember Orson Scott Card once saying that he felt the best proof of the Book of Mormon was that the book was a fairly well-written and authentic-sounding English-language version of scripture; it was, he thought, more likely that angels appeared to a farmboy in New England and directed him to find and translate some text on some golden plates with the help of seeing stones than it was that this farmboy could have written a book of quality.

I submit that this is the sort of conclusion that one can only reach if you START from the conclusion that you're trying to reach.

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Fenring
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For my part I'm not claiming anything about the kid's intent. I only think something is off about his answers and the story doesn't add up. My 'best case scenario' helps it add up by suggesting the kid is not too bright and really did a) have no clue this device looked suspicious, b) have no clue that America is leery of security threats, and c) feel that he achieved something worth showing off. All of these must be true for his story to check out, and indeed that may be the case. I don't assume an ulterior motive, but I also wouldn't rule it out. In this case the conspiracy theory version of events isn't actually that far fetched, although I don't have enough information to weigh whether it's more or less likely than the other possibilities.

Tom, what does knowing about 'human nature' have to do with this particular kid? Surely you know about the dangers in misplaced universal specification or in imputing a statistical average as evidence of particular conditions? JoshCrow is right that we simply don't know anything at present about his character other than that he answers questions very awkwardly.

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AI Wessex
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quote:
For starters, these comments from Mark Cuban suggest that his answers are being coached.

Watch this video of Ahmed talking in an interview... which is BIZARRELY edited around his comments in a horribly sloppy way (really, it almost calls to mind an old Simpsons parody).

I truly suspect he's actually the opposite of gifted. Not merely because his clock isn't his invention, but because his responses are those of a dullard, not a sharp 14 year old.

The Cuban comments don't add up to much. As he notes, the kid is very engaged when he's talking about tinkering and gadgets, and otherwise not. Call him "dull" if you like, but I would prefer a more trenchant analysis of his behavior by a team of forensic psychologists, or preferably, just an acknowledgement that he's a 14-year old kid who thinks he did something cool and doesn't understand the fuss, and maybe he's enjoying the attention, too.

The GMA story was shaped to make it more videogenic, as they always are. He doesn't sound dull there, either, but there, too, he's definitely caught up in the swirl of attention that he's not used to. At his age, I wanted to be Mickey Mantle's replacement. If only someone had seen me whacking the ball over the fence in junior high school my life might have turned out differently (ok, it was a short fence, but I did it a couple of times). The notion that the interview was "BIZARRELY edited" is entirely what you are choosing to read into it. FWIW, that you find it that way is BIZARRE.

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Rafi
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So what is being learned here? 1. Cobble together a device that looks like a bomb and you get incredible benefits, like a celebrity. 2. Questioning such devices in the hands of Islamic children is racist and forbidden (has the lawsuit been filed yet?)

Put it all in this context:
quote:
The Islamic State terrorist organization has trained over 1,000 children in the last six months to become suicide bombers, according to an Iraqi human rights commission.

“Since last November, IS militants have trained more than a thousand children to become suicide bombers,” Fadhil Kharawi, a member of the Iraqi Independent Commission for Human Rights, told reporters in Baghdad on Sunday.

Looks like reccruiting in the US just got way easier and executing the bombing even easier.
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TomDavidson
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*sigh* I love how any notion that we should treat Muslims like human beings always receives comments like "if we treat them well, the terrorists will use that against us" from the usual suspects.

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quote:
JoshCrow is right that we simply don't know anything at present about his character other than that he answers questions very awkwardly.
He's a teenager who's nervous when being interviewed by national media, yet! And from this we can conclude that he was trying to scare his school with a fake bomb -- or, as has been intimidated, strike a blow for Muslims everywhere by making it harder to accuse dark-skinned teenagers with beeping boxes of terrorism.

That you don't even realize how sick and pernicious this "let's find something wrong with the kid" angle in conservative commentary is....Well, I don't think it's to your credit.

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NobleHunter
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quote:
JoshCrow is right that we simply don't know anything at present about his character other than that he answers questions very awkwardly.
Which is why the apparent urge to believe the worst of this kid is pretty disconcerting. I just don't see any reason not to think that he just dissassembled and reassembled a clock into a new case and then brought it to school to show a teacher he liked.
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