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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Friday, September 21, 2007

A constitutional right to be stupid

Is Star Simpson Homer's long-lost daughter?

Proving that not all MIT students are brilliant, the 19-year-old walked into Logan Airport's Terminal C in a black hoodie with a circuit board attached to the front with green LED lights and wires running to a 9-volt battery.

Not surprisingly, she was surrounded by men in black jumpsuits aiming machine guns at her. We'll let Major Scott Pare of the State Police take it from there.
"Thankfully because she followed our instructions, she ended up in our cell instead of a morgue," Pare said. "Again, this is a serious offense ... I’m shocked and appalled that somebody would wear this type of device to an airport."
Me too. But a colleague remarked that he is troubled by a society where our rights are being eroded -- even the constitutional right to be stupid. He has a point.

State Police deserve credit for not overreacting the way they did when the Moonites hit town. They certainly could have put a speedy end to Ms. Simpson -- and shut down the Logan and air traffic across a broad swatch of the nation.

But I know I'm not necessarily comforted when I see the heavy weapon-toting Staties on patrol. Whose benefit is that for? The terrorist lurking in the men's room (the one not tapping his feet)? Or for Mr./Ms. Frustrated and Annoyed Traveler? A recent trip through London's Heathrow Airport showed me security can be done without being gaudy -- or frustrating.

And my colleague has a point. Not only has the Bush administration made us less safe by taking a war to the wrong enemy, it has tapped our phones and eroded our constitutional guarantees -- not to mention condoned torture.

I have no sympathy for Ms. Simpson looking down the barrel of guns that mean business. She pulled a moronic stunt and should not only do jail time but also pay for the cost of the response.

But I most certainly would not have wanted to be the person standing nearby her when those guns came out. Or the person whose conversation is picked up in a broad-brushed eavesdropping.

Whatever happened to our country?

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