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I’m utterly flabbergasted by this story, from the afternoon update of the Chronicle of Higher Education:

MIT Student Sporting Circuit-Board Artwork Is Arrested in Airport Bomb Scare

Police officers arrested an MIT student at gunpoint this morning when they thought she was carrying a bomb into Logan International Airport, The Boston Globe reported.

The student, 19-year-old Star Simpson, walked into the airport at 8 a.m. with a circuit board affixed to the front of her sweatshirt. The circuit board displayed green LED lights and trailed wires running to a 9-volt battery. When an airport employee asked her about it, she did not respond, the Globe said. Police officers wielding machine guns quickly surrounded her. They determined that her prop was harmless, but arrested her for possessing a hoax device and for disturbing the peace.

The back of Ms. Simpson’s sweatshirt said, in gold handwritten letters, “socket to me” and “Course VI,” the nickname for the program in electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, the Globe reported. She told the police that her garment was an art project.

“I’m an inventor, artist, engineer, and student,” Ms. Simpson says on her MIT Web site. “I love to build things, and I love crazy ideas.”

Law-enforcement authorities weren’t too crazy about her latest idea. “I’m shocked and appalled that somebody would wear this type of device to an airport,” Maj. Scott Pare of the Massachusetts State Police told the Globe. “Thankfully because she followed our instructions,” he said, “she ended up in our cell instead of a morgue.” –Sara Lipka

Thankfully? My assumption is that Ms. Simpson is the one who is meant, in this statement, to be thankful, displaying an appropriate level of gratitude for not having been shot for wearing a sweatshirt with flashing lights on it. Let’s leave aside, for the moment, the question of whether a battery-operated sweatshirt constitutes a “hoax device,” and therefore whether Ms. Simpson should have ended up in that cell at all (though I’m compelled to ask whether my grandmother would be arrested for disturbing the peace if she attempted to enter Logan Airport while wearing her Christmas sweatshirt on which Rudolph’s nose blinks). What I really want to know is in what universe would an actual bomb-carrying terrorist go through airport security with a prominently displayed, flashing-lighted circuit board attached to his or her chest?

That this story exists at all seems to me prima facie evidence that “they hate us for our freedom” is cynical, disingenuous nonsense. Perhaps they, whoever they are, hate us because our state apparatus is willing to shoot its own citizens for wearing a piece of blinking circuitry, which, if you ask me, is pretty much the opposite of freedom, thanks.


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