This arrest of Star Simpson is the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. Take a look at the pictures. It's several green LEDs in the shape of a Star - it is indeed her name tag. Anybody with 2 hours of electronics instruction should be aware that a 9V battery, a few resistors and several cheap LEDs *in a breadboard* are not dangerous. (Case in point - I blew one up yesterday in lab. Nobody was hurt.)
I can't believe that security people trained to recognize bombs are so ignorant of what a bomb might actually look like that they could mistake a flashy little nametag circuit as an attempt at terrorism. If a person is allowed to use deadly force in order to prevent a bomb from being set off, he better be incredibly well trained in the art of bomb-recognition. I just watched a news report where the Chief of Police described it as a "circuit board that actually lit up". Lit. Up. Imagine that! He even calls it "a device". Idiot.
What's more, I can't believe they didn't apologize to her after they realized what it was. Sure, it was exposed electronics, but living in a state of fear of anything with a visible resistor is not going to cure terrorism. Hey, mister police man, what's that clipped on to the front of your shirt? A radio? Hey, what's that inside - IS THAT ELECTRONICS? I mean, honestly, the only difference between the two is a plastic case.
If our law enforcement can be duped by the simplest of circuits, we're worse off than I ever imagined. What we need is people who are highly informed and equipped with the most sophisticated equipment for bomb detection, and who are experts in responding with as little force as possible.
I think that people should be responsible for their personal choices, but not for others' ignorance. If a police officer can't tell a bomb from a piece of electronic art, it's not Star's fault. People who make unusual choices can usually be expected to endure unpleasant questioning because society likes norms, but they should never be punished under the law for harmless self-expression.
"Had she not followed the instructions, deadly force may have been used." Our police officers (or at least the ones responding to such a call) should unquestionably have been able to tell, by the time they had her at gunpoint, that they had made a mistake.
Holy chalupa, as they say.
Edit: Here's what I think happened. At MIT, you see, you can walk around with a shopping cart full of capacitors and the only comment you'll get is something like "hey, want a plastic bag to cover your capacitors? it's raining". I've seen people with all manner of complicated, dangerous experiments in MIT's hallways and nobody gives a second glance. I've even walked around with a bread board, PRECISELY the same one that Star had (she probably even got it from the same class I did - 6.002) and the only thing people say to me is "oh, did you finish the lab already? what resistor did you use for the voltage regulator?". It's easy to forget that Logan Airport is a completely different environment where, apparently, carrying circuits is a crime.
Edit2: This article from South Africa makes my blood boil.
"A 19-year-old student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology walked into Boston's Logan International Airport on Friday with a fake bomb strapped to her chest and was arrested at gunpoint, authorities said." It was a name tag, not a fake bomb. It was not strapped to her chest - it was pinned with a safety pin to her sweatshirt.
"Star Simpson, who is from Hawaii, wore a computer circuit board, wiring and a putty that later turned out to be Play-Doh strapped over her black hooded sweat shirt and in plain view." It was a bread board, not a circuit board. I know most people don't care what the difference is, but they are NOT the same thing. The so-called "putty" was in her hand, not even touching her nametag. And yes, it was in plain view - it was supposed to be. How many terrorists wear their bombs in plain view?
"She's extremely lucky she followed the instructions or deadly force would have been used," Pare said. "And she's lucky to be in a cell as opposed to the morgue."
>.<Edit3: Even Fox news is reporting that it "turned out to be a fake bomb". I've never been so totally aware that the news networks in this country are shot to hell.
Edit4: This is what they used when the surrounded her at gunpoint.