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Proposed Legislation Is Mooninite Fallout

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the against-stupidity-the-gods-themselves dept.

Politics 280

theantipop writes "Ars Technica has a story about the Terrorist Hoax Improvements Act, a bill introduced recently by the Senate. The bill aims to 'amend the federal criminal code to include a number of new clauses meant to up the ante on wasting government resources. The amendments include extensions to the prohibitions on the spread of false information and mailing threats, increases to maximum prison terms, and allowances for civil suits so that local and federal governments can attempt to recoup expenses related to an incident.' This is undoubtedly a reaction to the Great Mooninite Scare of 2007."

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...and in related news, (5, Funny)

Srass (42349) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044283)

Congress has just passed a bill making it illegal to make government officials look like idiots. Government officials were unavailable for comment, having been immediately arrested upon passage of the bill. This has started talk of a bill to make "making stupid things illegal" illegal, but it is unknown whether anyone is now left to vote on the bill, or, possibly more to the point, who will argue incessantly over whether the bill is self-contradictory or not.

Re:...and in related news, (-1, Redundant)

Tuoqui (1091447) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044419)

Why would people have to make government officials look like idiots? They do a perfectly fine job of it on their own.

Re:...and in related news, (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044471)

RTFC dude, it's in there: "Government officials were unavailable for comment, having been immediately arrested upon passage of the bill."

Re:...and in related news, (1)

JensenDied (1009293) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044925)

*Whoosshhh*
and you didn't even need to duck for it to go over your head

Re:...and in related news, (1, Funny)

bckrispi (725257) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044989)

We all know that government officials are nerds. And on the moon, nerds get their pants pulled down and they are spanked with moon rocks.

Re:...and in related news, (1)

tehwebguy (860335) | more than 7 years ago | (#19045139)

Now you DROP those sweatpants right now!

Re:...and in related news, (1)

yogurtforthesoul (1032362) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044611)

Well if we remember what Stephen Hawking said, we then can inhere that a new congress will appear out of nothing! Problem solved.

Re:...and in related news, (1)

yogurtforthesoul (1032362) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044695)

infer, infer, infer, infer Does it correct itself if I type it enough?

Re:...and in related news, (1)

Dr. Smoove (1099425) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044661)

"The innocent shall suffer-- big-time"

I'm sorry, that's not a questions about hair. (1)

k1e0x (1040314) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044745)

No kidding.

This is what I'm talking about when I say government is never at fault.. no matter how badly they screw up.

Re:I'm sorry, that's not a questions about hair. (3, Funny)

BakaHoushi (786009) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044977)

I think of it another way. Captain Kirk once said, Alcohol is the cause of, and solution to, most of life's problems.

Government is the cause of all of life's problems, but have legislation preventing the solutions from being released to the general public.

Re:...and in related news, (3, Funny)

TheHornedOne (50252) | more than 7 years ago | (#19045535)

Mr. Yossarian was unavailable for comment.

Watch out for DHMO (5, Insightful)

Kelson (129150) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044291)

Hmm, "prohibitions on the spread of false information...."

Does that mean that if another city starts considering legislation to ban dihydrogen monoxide (like Aliso Viejo, California did [msn.com] in 2004), that the government could seek damages from the mainainers of DHMO.org [dhmo.org] ?

Re:Watch out for DHMO (5, Insightful)

72beetle (177347) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044403)

prohibitions on the spread of false information....

Like the existence of WMD's?

Re:Watch out for DHMO (5, Funny)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044535)

No. In the case of WMD's in Iraq, spreading false information was the government's job. THey just don't want any competition.

Re:Watch out for DHMO (1)

smbarbour (893880) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044983)

Much like the laws against stealing.

The government hate competition.

(That said, with the laws against spreading false information, shouldn't a certain news channel named after an animal and you know who in the elliptical-shaped office be careful?)

Re:Watch out for DHMO (4, Funny)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044431)

"prohibitions on the spread of false information...."

I smell a veto coming!

-Rick

Re:Watch out for DHMO (1)

bckrispi (725257) | more than 7 years ago | (#19045031)

I smell a veto coming!
No, sign the bill now. Smoke while you are doing so!

Re:Watch out for DHMO (1)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044445)

Took me a second or two for me to remember my chemistry :D

Re:Watch out for DHMO (5, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044551)

Yup. Government officials are only allowed to make themselves look like complete morons. God forbid anyone else should be allowed to do so.

Frankly, I think this bill gets dangerously close to thought crime. Making a threat is already illegal. Doing something that a f*ckcing moron thinks is a threat should not be. If you are too mind bogglingly stupid to look at the mooninite thing and realize that it is probably not a bomb, you not only do not deserve to be in any position of authority, but also probably do not even deserve the life support that they must be using to keep your body alive in the absence of a central nervous system (both parts).

The best one was Boston police blowing up a traffic counter. Seriously, there is one very massive sucking sound caused by the vacuum between the ears of the people who are reacting to these "credible threats".

Here's a counterproposal. Make it a crime punishable by termination and fines for any person in charge of any government entity to waste taxpayer resources. THAT would be a useful law. It would make it possible to can people in civil service for gross ineptitude, a condition which unfortunately seems all too prevalent in those circles, and for which which no viable solution currently exists due to fundamental brokenness in government hiring practices.

We can start by arresting Congress plus the entire Executive Branch and starting over from scratch.

A story from the military (4, Insightful)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#19045469)

Once when I was in the military, stationed in Okinawa, we had a situation. The political environment wasn't exactly good for us right then, a drunk Marine had hit and run a local Prom Queen, we had a few large groups of protesters at the base gates, and it looked like the newly elected official for the island was going to push for moving the Marines out of Japan. So anyways, on night while walking home from the base PX (err, a mall for ya civies) I saw a bulging cardboard box sitting by a mail box in front of one of the Barracks (it caught my eye, but it was a ways off). When I got to my barracks I told the Duty that there was a box by the mail box in front of the other barracks. It was like hot potato. Given the social/political climate at the time, it very well could have been a bomb, and no one wanted to be the one to go poking at it first. After way to much drama, I wound up going back out with a budy to look at it.

It was a pair of boots in the box.

I still don't know who the clown was who left his boots in a box by the mail, but it had the Duty on the verge of calling the MPs, Hazmat, and the OOD.

Point being, sometimes innoculous crap is just that. The bitch of it though, is that some times it isn't.

-Rick

Re:A story from the military (1)

bi_boy (630968) | more than 7 years ago | (#19045547)

So, what happened to the drunk Marine?

Re:A story from the military (5, Interesting)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#19045759)

My memory has faded a bit since that happened, but I think he got 10 years in a prison up on the mainland. And Japanesse prisons are significantly less pleasant than the Brig from what I hear.

He was hardly an isolated incident unfortunately. The list of horrendous acts drunken members of the military have done in Okinawa is rather staggering. It was with good reason that the protesters were at our gates.

-Rick

Re:Watch out for DHMO (5, Funny)

ringm000 (878375) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044579)

False information? It looks like all the information on DHMO.org is true.

Re:Watch out for DHMO (0)

Kelson (129150) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044683)

False information? It looks like all the information on DHMO.org is true.

Arrgh! Here's a conundrum: I can't mod you up because I already posted in this thread. But your comment was a response to mine. So if I hadn't posted in this thread, you wouldn't have made this comment. This means that no matter what course of action I might have taken in this thread, there is no possible way I would ever have been able to mod your comment up!

Re:Watch out for DHMO (3, Interesting)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044599)

Making the government look like a bunch of idiots is my God-given right as an American. If people can't let off steam by making fun of the government, they might actually get angry enough to do something more serious to the government.

Re:Watch out for DHMO (0, Offtopic)

kinglink (195330) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044687)

Hell then the state of Lousiana can then sue Jack Thompson for scaring them into making an unconstitutional bill about video games.

And maybe we can finally hold some of the loudest mouthpieces for global warming until they finally either shut up or prove their rantings.

Re:Watch out for DHMO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19044993)

And maybe we can finally hold some of the loudest mouthpieces for global warming until they finally either shut up or prove their rantings.

Wait, how exactly do you prove a prediction about what will happen in the future? Wait 50 years to see what happens?

Re:Watch out for DHMO (0)

kinglink (195330) | more than 7 years ago | (#19045315)

So when they claim they have evidence that shows that the world will be covered in water in 50 years, we shouldn't expect to see any evidence?

There's actually quite a few scientists in the global warming debate that has constantly made claims with out showing evidence, or with showing completely faulty evidence and when someone disproves it, the disproving evidence is ignored and the fictions evidence is still regarded as undeniable proof.

That doesn't mean there isn't people proving their thoughts, but there's a great many who are fearmongering and claiming conclusive evidence who isn't putting their science where their politicizing is.

the finger (5, Funny)

Corpuscavernosa (996139) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044301)

I'm giving this act the finger, AS HARD AS I CAN.

Re:the finger (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19044427)

Funny, but the odds are it's less about Boston not employing a single insomniac, and more about people calling in bomb threats, leaving bomb notes, and falsely reporting school shootings, and all the attendant inconvienence that goes with that.

Re:the finger (1)

Corpuscavernosa (996139) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044503)

I completely agree but this was meant more as a joke, taking a Mooninite quote from the ATHF show...

Re:the finger (0)

yipper (159272) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044593)

hey there big dead nostril John 13:35

but you may be right about the other thing

Re:the finger (2, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044651)

Great, now take the finger, a few others to a pen, and press it to a piece of paper.
Now write a damn letter to you representitives and tell them how you feel.
Nicely.

Or an email, whatever.

Don't mess with football! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19044307)

Don't mess with football!

H. G. Wells would be a felon (3, Insightful)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044383)

And all of the actors form War of the Worlds would be locked up...

And yet it still wouldn't make us any more safe from a real terrorist attack. Huh.

-Rick

Re:H. G. Wells would be a felon (4, Informative)

dircha (893383) | more than 7 years ago | (#19045099)

"And all of the actors form War of the Worlds would be locked up.."

RTFA for crying out loud!

According to the article, you can only be held liable if 1) they (the government) react as if it were a real emergency, 2) you are aware of their overreaction, and 3) you fail to tell them that it is not a real emergency.

The War of the Worlds broadcast was broadcast with disclaimers. And I'm not aware of any government emergency response triggered by the broadcast. This law doesn't cover activities wasting private citizens' resources, only government resources. And CBS certainly would have informed the goverment of the nature of the program had they been aware of any official emergency response.

And the radio broadcast was ORSON Welles, not H.G. Welles.

Re:H. G. Wells would be a felon (1)

reverius (471142) | more than 7 years ago | (#19045491)

Actually, it was indeed H.G. Wells that wrote The War of the Worlds [wikipedia.org] . Orson Welles directed the radio broadcast [wikipedia.org] version. So... they'd both be locked up.

Re:H. G. Wells would be a felon (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 7 years ago | (#19045755)

So its another law that makes government a noble class above citizens. Like murdering a postman is a worse crime than murdering a shopkeeper. Congress was not outraged at Gonzales and the Justice Department before they raided a congressman's office, now suddenly he's breaking the law.

Irony in action (1)

ruiner13 (527499) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044389)

The bill aims to 'amend the federal criminal code to include a number of new clauses meant to up the ante on wasting government resources.
Won't that pretty much make the entire US government illegal? No one wastes government resources like the government itself. It is only a matter of time before someone gets charged under this law for leaving a carton of milk in the sun too long making someone think it smells like a bomb, calling the bomb squad and creating panic.

Thus, ever higher (1)

dsanfte (443781) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044401)

Thus, ever higher do the jail sentences creep.

Soon, the difference between a normal sentence and life will be one of title only.

Re:Thus, ever higher (may be a good thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19044691)

If people start receiving sentences for minor (or non-existent) infractions, then large numbers of people will realize that the difference in punishment between, say, talking about guns at work [slashdot.org] and using guns to fix the country [duke.edu] is minimal.

Re:Thus, ever higher (4, Interesting)

anagama (611277) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044757)

When we get to that point, expect all out lawlessness to ensue. If jay walking will get you a few years, you might as well do a real crime. And when minor crimes take most of your life, WTF, might as well go out big.

Increasingly draconian sententencing is rather counter-productive in the sense that it may help increase the severity of crimes performed, or the desperation of those close to being nabbed.

Re:Thus, ever higher (1)

dircha (893383) | more than 7 years ago | (#19045251)

"When we get to that point, expect all out lawlessness to ensue."

That seems quite unlikely to me. Quite to the contrary. So long as it isn't the children of senators and white middle class americans carrying out civil disobedience and being jailed, a majority of the country will rally behind the administration and law enforcement.

It would be for the same reasons that people react violently against anti-war protesters, and against people denouncing and criticising the government or the troops. I don't know what exactly that reason is psychologically, but I see it everywhere from FoxNews to freerepublic.dom to conservative talk radio. Some people outright *rage* the moment you seriously suggest that their government might be misleading them or the troops might be dying in vain.

Re:Thus, ever higher (5, Interesting)

dykofone (787059) | more than 7 years ago | (#19045477)

Outstanding point, and reminds me of being 16 when a friend and I tried to buy paintballs. Not paintball guns, just the paintballs. We were instructed by the clerk at checkout that we must be 18 to purchase paintballs, and had to show ID. We left, rather disappointed, and had a chat about it in the parking lot. We realized that "it's illegal for us to buy them, and it's illegal for us to steal them," so, naturally, we chose the option that would get us our damn paintballs.

We had to break the law to get our paintballs, and we had to chose the option that was not only illegal, but highly immoral. It's certainly sophomoric logic, but I'm pretty sure it's the type of logic that would prevail in an over-lawed state.

Re:Thus, ever higher (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044943)

According to the International Centre for Prison Studies at King's College London, the U.S. currently has the largest documented prison population in the world, both in absolute and proportional terms.
http://www.straightdope.com/columns/040206.html [straightdope.com]

Personally, I think it's as much of a threat to the rest of the world as nuclear arms.

Eh? (4, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044407)

The amendments include extensions to the prohibitions on the spread of false information and mailing threats, increases to maximum prison terms, and allowances for civil suits so that local and federal governments can attempt to recoup expenses related to an incident.

Wait a minute here. How the hell can the government enter into civil suits?

These are suits which are outside of the usual prosecutorial parts of the justice system -- ie civilian.

They can pass a law to make it a crime, but I can't imagine the badness of the precedent of governments being able to take civil action. Take criminal action, or bugger off. You can't really ask to do both.

Does this even have a valid basis in law?

Cheers

Re:Eh? (1)

Richard McBeef (1092673) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044479)

Does this even have a valid basis in law?

Yes it does. The government can be sued in civilian court as can it sue civilian court.

Re:Eh? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044509)

Yes it does. The government can be sued in civilian court as can it sue civilian court.

OK. Fair enough. So ... why do they need a new law then?

Cheers

Re:Eh? (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044577)

Because ti is problematic to recover costs when they respond to a 'false alarm'. As the moonities where. Now if they make a mistake, you can still get sued! well, not now, but if the Bill passes. I would contact your reps.

Re:Eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19044565)

Does this even have a valid basis in law?

Remember the billion jillion times people have tried to explain here why Bill Gates isn't a "convicted monopolist"? The government enters into civil cases all the time. That has nothing to do with the distinction between civil and criminal.

Re:Eh? (3, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044799)

How the hell can the government enter into civil suits?


The government has always been able to enter civil suits.

These are suits which are outside of the usual prosecutorial parts of the justice system -- ie civilian.


Yes, they are outside of the criminal justice system. That means, for one thing, no one is going to be sent to jail, executed, etc.

Government engages in civil lawsuits all the time.

They can pass a law to make it a crime, but I can't imagine the badness of the precedent of governments being able to take civil action.


Government has been able to take civil action forever. So there is no real precedent in it being able to do so now.

Take criminal action, or bugger off. You can't really ask to do both.


Not only can they, but they have been for quite some time.

Re:Eh? (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 7 years ago | (#19045743)

Obviously the government can enter civil suits just like any other corporate entity.

However, that being beside the point, this could actually be quite pernicious. Imagine a scene at an airport. Suppose one removes a small box from one's suitcase which contains a gift. You remove the gift and accidently leave the box on the seat as you leave.

After you take off, the box is discovered, bomb squad is called in. You hear about it on the news after the fact, but fail to call the TSA for fear of the result. You are now subject to civil action if they catch you.

The problem with this law is that it essentially criminalizes many things that are likely inadvertant. The mooninite scare was clearly inadvertant (i.e. only Boston -- remember Walter A O'Brian -- reacted out of all the other cities where these were displayed).

won't happen (2, Interesting)

MooseTick (895855) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044417)

This will never happen. It would open the door for the government to artificially get excited about any action someone does and then declare it a "terrorist act". Some may say they would only go after reasonable "hoaxes", but all the ATHF people did was hang some light brites in public places. There was no signage or any other indicator that the things were terrorist related or even dangerous.

Re:won't happen (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044889)

There was no signage or any other indicator that the things were terrorist related or even dangerous.

Terrorists may not be the sharpest forks in the drawer, but I doubt even they would be stupid enough to put a sign saying "This is a dangerous bomb placed here for terrorist related activities." on their bombs.

Re:won't happen (0)

veganboyjosh (896761) | more than 7 years ago | (#19045177)

Come on now, don't give them any ideas on what'll set the public at ease when they see a bomb...

Spread of false information? (2, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044429)

The amendments include extensions to the prohibitions on the spread of false information

did not RTFA, but the government is the single largest distributor of false information around...

everything from telling us that reducing your cholesterol intake will lower your risk of heart disease (false) to telling us there were WMDs in Iraq.

seems like they're going to need a "no tag backs" clause in this one.

Re:Spread of false information? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044603)

"..everything from telling us that reducing your cholesterol intake will lower your risk of heart disease (false) "

you care to back that up? Having seen data that backs that up, I would find a link interesting.

Or are you talking about certian kinds of cholesterol?

Re:Spread of false information? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044751)

Go google for Gary Taubes' article "What if it's all been a big fat lie". I will tell you now that the issue is hotly contested; Many people have attempted to debunk it, and I've read many debunkings, and none of them are accurate. But then, when the government is culpable in drastically lowering the quality of life of [nearly] all Americans in order to produce revenue, it's going to be pretty hotly contested, now isn't it?

The NIH spent hundreds of millions of taxpayer money trying to make a link between eating fat and risk of heart disease. They failed to do so. They had one study that said that taking drugs to reduce your cholesterol count reduces the risk of heart disease and they used that study, which suggested other research but said nothing else concrete, to discredit fat. Based on that they developed the food pyramid in which carbs outweighed all other foods you took in during the course of the day. This also corresponds to the rise in popularity of processed, packaged foods. And these things are followed by the youth diabetes epidemic in this country. If you connect the dots it looks very much like the NIH spent our money in order to craft a convincing lie to cause us to purchase processed foods, which led to record levels of diabetes (youth or so-called "infant" diabetes was virtually unheard of in this country before this shift.) And the only reason they would do that is to create profits for a fledgling industry...

Re:Spread of false information? (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 7 years ago | (#19045075)

I have to say, it has seemed very fishy to me for quite a while that as carb intake goes up in America, so does the average weight. The fact that every single person I have ever met that actually did a high fat/low carb diet lost weight, and a lot of it, while 95% of the people that I have met who did the high carb/low fat diets have not, doesn't lend credence to the fat is evil theory either. Then finish it off with the fact that carbohydrates are by definition sugar. I have a real hard time swallowing the idea that a high sugar diet is a good thing. Heck, I have seen those orange gel Brachs candies on the shelf of the grocery store with large text declaring them a 'Great Source of Vitamin C' and 'Low fat'. It has actually gotten to the point that candy is being sold as health food. Bizzaro.

Re:Spread of false information? (2, Interesting)

adrianbaugh (696007) | more than 7 years ago | (#19045333)

Bloody hell! It really isn't difficult. If you want to lose weight, eat less. The choice shouldn't be between a high fat / low carb diet or a high carb / low fat diet, but between overeating or eating the right amount. The word "diet" shouldn't even be necessary were it not for the fact that we are constantly in the crossfire of a propaganda war between the junk foodists and the diet peddlers. Those advocating the sensible middle ground, of eating as much as you need and listening to what your body craves, tend to have little funding for advertising and are consequently given a damn good ignoring.

Re:Spread of false information? (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 7 years ago | (#19045527)

You seem to have become confused about the definition of the word diet. It is probably due to the fact that we are constantly in the crossfire of a propaganda war between junk foodists and the diet peddlers. Saying 'eat less' is a red herring. It is just a way for thin people to feel superior to fat people. At some point, you are starving yourself, and that might not happen before you loose weight. I had an aunt, a very very stupid aunt that ended up in a hospital after she fell for the low calorie fib. She figured out how big of a piece of chocolate cake she could eat and still meet here calorie goal. It really isn't just how much you eat. Until you start getting into extreme amounts of food, what you eat is as important, if not more important.

Wasting government resources? (1)

Wilson_6500 (896824) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044437)

Was that more the fault of the guy who put up the signs, the people who became terrified of them, the officials who ordered the response, or the governmental folks who can't let this thing alone?

Besides, isn't wasting government resources precisely what government does best?

The Biggest Hoax: +1, Helpful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19044439)


Is the White House spreading democracy and freedom [whitehouse.org] .

Dear United Nations:

Please send your elections monitoring force to the United States of America in 2008 to monitor the U.S. Presidential race.
Additionally, to thwart strong-arm tactics at polling stations, U.N. Peace Keeping Troops are urgently requested.

Thank you for your consideration.

Peacefully as always,
Kilgore Trout, C.E.O.

Wait... (5, Insightful)

Aadain2001 (684036) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044441)

So, if a local/state government agency overreacts and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on something that you basic citizen wouldn't even look at twice (see Mooninites), they can sue the group/person/etc that they overreacted too for large sums of money? How is this not a gigantic loophole just asking for $$$$$ to be "recovered" from people/groups that disagree with said government agencies?

If a group posts fliers and holds rallies against some government official because he is corrupt, couldn't he simply call in the police/feds on the group as a "possible terrorist group", ransack their offices, etc, run up a huge bill and then sue the group out of existence under this new bill?

Re:Wait... (5, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#19045563)

If a group posts fliers and holds rallies against some government official because he is corrupt, couldn't he simply call in the police/feds on the group as a "possible terrorist group", ransack their offices, etc, run up a huge bill and then sue the group out of existence under this new bill?

Yes! This is one step shy of being the domestic equivalent of the "enemy combatant" doctrine (I say doctrine because as far as I know none of our laws refer to the concept of the "enemy combatant" and that's just some new thing Bush made up). With enemy combatants, they can simply declare you to be one and at that point your guilt or innocence is irrelevent. The mere fact that they thought you were an enemy fighter is enough for them to do whatever they want.

Here, they at least aren't able to ignore the fact that you are actually innocent of plotting any real terrorist act, but they are still able to punish you for the fact that they merely thought you might be a terrorist. So all they have to do is say that they thought some activity of yours was terrorist-related, and when it turns out not to be, any expenses they incured "figuring out" what they already knew are your problem. So your innocence is irrelevent in the sense that you are still punished, just not as severely.

This is going to be fantastic for anyone who enjoys abusing their law enforcement powers. Imagine being able to accuse any woman wearing a short skirt of being a prostitute, drag her down to the station, and when it turns out there's no evidence of her being a prostitute, you can then charge her with the crime of making you think she was a prostitute. That short skirt was very deceiving! Okay, well, actually it wasn't even that short of a skirt. But it doesn't matter how stupid the inference is, the cop says he thought it was true! Ah, such a glorious time it is for fascists. If this bill passes, I'm sure it's only a matter of time before the same principle is applied to other crimes like prostitution.

I drew a mooninite on my dry erase board at work. (2, Funny)

Associate (317603) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044453)

I was informed by a coworker that I might get into trouble over the finger. So I erased just the finger. But that hasn't stopped others from adding penises or hats or other features to my mooninite.

Re:I drew a mooninite on my dry erase board at wor (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044633)

I used the mooninite "PARANOIA: If it's not an American flag, it's probably a bomb." picture as my screen background. Of course, on looking at it, it has two typos. I think I may draw in the missing apostrophes on my copy....

Re:I drew a mooninite on my dry erase board at wor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19045785)

PARANOIA: If it's not an American flag, it's probably a bomb.


So, the best place to hide a bomb would be behind or under an American flag?

Speaking of paranoia: Have you ever had the neighbors call the fire department over the smoke from your barbecue? Have you ever had them call the police cause they heard the headboard banging on the wall along with the sounds of a woman whom they thought was in pain? Have you ever been reported for child abuse because your kids were heard fighting or they screamed "please no daddy" multiple times when you told them to turn off the TV and go take a bath/go to bed? Would these count as you wasting the resources of the local authorities under this legislation?

Report everything! (2, Interesting)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044513)

The best thing that people could do is to start reporting every single unattended piece of garbage, shopping trolly, paper bag, cardboard box, tin can etc to the authorities as a 'suspect device'.

Something along the lines of: "You wanted to be notified of any suspicious devices or activities? Well theres a paper bag lying on the ground here at (insert location) and noone seems to know anything about it. Its big enough to hold a few sticks of dynamite or something. Just being a good citizen, sir!".

If the 'authorities' want to take *obvious* stuff like the mooninites publicity stunt *that* seriously then let them try to apply the same level of serious for any notification of 'suspect objects'.

The problem of stupid overreaction on the part of the 'authorities' will go away very very quickly.

Great Advertising (1)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044519)

So it cost cartoon network 2$mil in settlements plus their incidental costs with the case, added to the original investment for the terrist-ads themselves. Considering this got more press than most Superbowl advertisements it seems like the return on investment was pretty solid.

Two sides to every story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19044523)

Lets face it we live in a shaky world where bomb threats, planted packages and such can turn a city into chaos be the threats real or a hoax. I understand the need to come down hard on some idiot who thinks its funny to scare the hell out of people to make a statement. It's sad that some expression of art/speech/whatever may be lost in the translation but does anyone have a better idea to deter and punish some wacko?

Re:Two sides to every story (1, Interesting)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044839)

but does anyone have a better idea to deter and punish some wacko?
Yes, don't give the wacko's the attention they want. The media are at least as guilty as the government in turning the ATHF signs into the spectacle it was. The fact that the destruction of the toys by the bomb squad got live coverage on CNN is exactly the sort of thing which will server as inspiration for future hoax's.

Boston (3, Interesting)

normuser (1079315) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044541)

The amendments include extensions to the prohibitions on the spread of false information and mailing threats, increases to maximum prison terms, and allowances for civil suits so that local and federal governments can attempt to recoup expenses related to an incident.'


Um, wasnt the boston government the ones "spreading false information" and making bomb threats?

Re:Boston (1)

k1e0x (1040314) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044815)

Haha, TRUE!

But they would just say..

"Not in a post 9/11 world! Everything *COULD* be a bomb. That card board box there. That ladies handbag.. This rubber chicken in my pocket *MIGHT* be a bomb! Call the bomb squad! Scramble the aircraft! Call CNN, Soooomeooone call my barber!"

Actually not flamebait. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19044555)

Uh, wait. So this is a bill about banning the spreading of false information that ends up in wasted state ressources?

Am I dreaming, or is someone sneakily trying to make the whole Iraq war outright illegal?

Re:Actually not flamebait. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19045027)

That depends.

Were you dreaming that it was actually legal?

fu2ck! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19044557)

cycle; 7ake a [goat.cx]

Federal bill? (1)

bigtangringo (800328) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044583)

What the fuck is wrong with this country? When did an issue like this become something the federal government has jurisdiction over?

Actually, I know our states gave that up a while ago. It's still stupid, along with the bill in the first place.

Longer Jail Terms = Cost (1)

aldheorte (162967) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044625)

Who is going to recoup the cost of longer jail terms? We only need to lock someone up if they are a continuing threat to others if not locked up, which in this case would mean they would continue to intentionally make terrorist hoaxes (which, if only a hoax, is not really a threat per se so much as a considerable annoyance). This bill is inherently contradictory. If someone *intentionally* and *with malice* makes a terrorist hoax, I want them contributing some portion of their income to paying responder overtime so I don't have to, not sitting in jail getting housed and fed on my dime.

Also, if this is a reaction to the scare in Boston, the bill should be rewritten so that people affected by the reaction should be able to bring civil suit against the government for wasting their time, not the other way down. Although, that would, on a large scale, result in people suing themselves, which would no doubt be interesting, and perhaps educational.

Re:Longer Jail Terms = Cost (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044967)

convict labor

Do something about it (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044811)

Either work to change the law, or leave the country. This isn't a "love it or leave it" comment - I don't care if you love America or not. But if you want to change things, then you should either enter politics and work to change it, or work on taking your brain and your skills to some other nation. If all the smart people leave then America won't be able to build new bombers :D

Re:Do something about it (1)

hwyengr (839340) | more than 7 years ago | (#19045327)

The problem is that they still have the blueprints for the old bombers.

Sounds Downright Reasonable! (1)

dircha (893383) | more than 7 years ago | (#19044941)

From the article:
"...the provisions in the bill would allow the government to take civil action against parties involved in perceived hoaxes if they fail to "promptly and reasonably inform one or more parties... of the actual nature of the activity" once they learn about investigative action taking place. In the case of Boston, this means that everyone involved could be sued for not immediately informing the police of the campaign upon receiving news of the emergency reaction."

So if you find out that the president is dispatching the national guard to combat your alien invasion hoax, you need to call the police up and let them know that it's just a joke, or risk being liable for emergency response costs.

That sounds down right reasonable to me.

Just like you can't scream "FIRE" in a crowded theatre and expect there to be no consequences.

The way the article puts it, you can't be held liable just if they over react. You can only be held liable if they overreact and you know about their overreaction but fail to alert them.

Where's the problem here? Emergency responses are expensive. I'd rather not give any more leeway than the constitution requires to some punks working for a marketing agency wasting my tax dollars, thanks.

Re:Sounds Downright Reasonable! (1)

tgibbs (83782) | more than 7 years ago | (#19045295)

Where's the problem here? Emergency responses are expensive. I'd rather not give any more leeway than the constitution requires to some punks working for a marketing agency wasting my tax dollars, thanks.


Because it doesn't seem like the onus should be on citizens to inform their public officials that they are acting like idiots.

In the case of the mooninite hysteria, it was idiotic in the first place not to realize that terrorist devices are not normally designed to call attention to themselves, and the idiocy was compounded by not bothering to consult any kind of expert on explosives or demolition, who would have informed them that the signs posted on buildings and bridges were not large enough to pose any kind of risk to the structures.

I think rather that the law should be changed so that public officials responsible for such an egregious and negligent waste of public funds could be personally liable for reimbursing the city for such an outrageous waste of tax funds.

Just like you can't scream "FIRE" in a crowded theatre and expect there to be no consequences.


But this case is really a bit more like somebody shouting "DOWN IN FRONT" at the crowded movie theater, and the city responding by shutting down all of the movie theaters in the city under the mistaken impression that "DOWN IN FRONT" actually means "FIRE"--and then arresting the guy who shouted because he didn't immediately rush to inform them that he was only trying to get the guy in front of him to sit down?

Re:Sounds Downright Reasonable! (1)

Lithdren (605362) | more than 7 years ago | (#19045593)

How on earth are you supposed to know when someone else is over-reacting?

Sure, its pretty damn clear AFTER the fact, but before, part of defusing a bomb is to not tell anyone about it being there, so they dont crowd the damn place or cause panic.

You can tell the police are on the way, once the sirens are sounding and there's 40 cop cars around. By that point, the money is spent, its too late.

This 'law' solves, NOTHING, causes even more Bullshit, spends even MORE MONEY (gotta man phones incase someone calls about a fake bomb threat, give me a break) and doesn't keep anyone safe.

I half expected to see "??????" and "PROFIT!" at the end of the article.

Re:Sounds Downright Reasonable! (1)

SleepyHappyDoc (813919) | more than 7 years ago | (#19045723)

So, the terrorists can call the police to tell them 'No, it's not a bomb. Really. You can all go home.'

war of the worlds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19045159)

by their definition, orson wells was on par with any terrorist organization. i still haven't heard how (if it was a real bomb or bioagent) picking it up with no armor other than a riot face shield and latex gloves and then blowing it up in the street was a proper course of action. if it was a real dirty bomb, the bomb squad would have done the terrorists job for them. blame anyone you want, but the real fault lies with our "expert" bomb techs that could recognize a simple equivalent to a lite brite and some batteries wrapped in tape.

in fact my first words when i saw the bomb were, "what the hell??? is that err shotting the bird??? i thought he liked to smoke while he shoots the bird."

"terrorist-like hoaxes" (1)

godzilla808 (586045) | more than 7 years ago | (#19045187)

2 quick observations about the phrase "terrorist-like hoaxes":


1. The entity responsible for turning the Mooninite publicity stunt into a terrorist-like hoax was Boston PD. It was the response, not the act.

2. There is nothing quite like a murky law--see the DMCA for a great example. So, would any hoax auto-magically become "terrorist-like"? Would someone accidentally leaving a backpack/iPod/Slurpee/etc. behind be guilty under this act if it caused a Boston-sized fuss? Or would a court of law have to prove that the perp had hoax-ish intentions?


Somewhere, real terrorists are laughing at the fact that the US is wasting their time with this type of legislature. Sad, really.

This is what we needed (1)

a1englishman (209505) | more than 7 years ago | (#19045209)

This is exactly what we needed: A law that will allow a government office to sue a citizen based upon some subjective criteria. What is a "perceived hoax?" Who is going to be nailed for the next Mooninite fiasco? The guy who leaves his lawn mower by the curb for a week? Someone traveling through an airport? There are already laws for creating a disturbance, and causing unrest.

An important distinction is missing... (1)

rbanzai (596355) | more than 7 years ago | (#19045241)

There's a big difference between a hoax and a publicity stunt that is mistaken as possible terrorism. If someone attempts to fool people into believing a terrorist activity is in progress, that's a terrorist hoax.

If someone does something completely unrelated that is somehow interpreted as terrorist activity, that is not a terrorist hoax. It's a mess, yes, but not a terrorist hoax.

The intention and execution is what makes the difference.

RIAA in trouble now... (1)

negated (981743) | more than 7 years ago | (#19045283)

The amendments include extensions to the prohibitions on the spread of false information and mailing threats,
So...does this mean someone can finally go after the RIAA?

-S

prohibitions on the spread of false information... (1)

cyberfunkr (591238) | more than 7 years ago | (#19045449)

That's really going to cut down the Slashdot replies

Terrorist Hoax Improvements Act (1)

eskwayrd (575069) | more than 7 years ago | (#19045457)

The description of the act leaves out how they plan to improve terrorist hoaxes.

Hmm, I wonder:

Politician 1: Great! Now we can over-react, and it won't cost us anything!
Politician 2: We should start recovering costs immediately.
Politician 1: What if the citizens get de-sensitized to "cost recovery" actions every 5 minutes?
Politician 2: Simple! We'll use the recovered costs to fabricate more 'exciting' terrorist hoaxes!

tub6iRl (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19045465)

Fehar the reaper

Mooninite HOAX? (2, Informative)

srothroc (733160) | more than 7 years ago | (#19045671)

According to dictionary.com, the Random House Unabridged Dictionary definition of "hoax" is "something intended to deceive or defraud". I don't see how, at all, the mooninite publicity stunt would be a "hoax" under the proper definition.

Sure, if they had intended to scare the public into thinking that terrorists were attacking America in order to drive them into their homes (where they would no doubt cower in fear watching Aqua Teen Hunger Force), then yes, I would agree that it was a hoax and that they would need to be properly penalized.

It doesn't seem like that was the case at all. I wish people would stop using words however they want, especially in political arenas, where rhetoric is one of the most powerful tools available. ("You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.")

I agree with the bill in letter, but I doubt the government's ability to follow it in spirit. Anything they don't like and construe as a terrorist treat can be a "hoax". That guy in a black spider-man costume? Well, we need some money... he must be a possible terrorist.

They *should* suffer! (1)

xENoLocO (773565) | more than 7 years ago | (#19045749)

I agree! The people behind this act should suffer tremendously for wasting government resources!

The mayor and police chief of boston should resign immediately, followed by whoever the hell proposed this bill to congress.

Does that apply to (1)

Perp Atuitie (919967) | more than 7 years ago | (#19045787)

presidents? Most of the frauds and hoaxes lately have been coming straight from the White House.

"the spread of false information" (1)

Punto (100573) | more than 7 years ago | (#19045807)

if this is aimed at all those government officials and tv stations and other news outlets that kept calling it a 'terrorist threat' well after they knew it wasn't, then they deserve it (it's not like they didn't pick up the phone and call cartoon network the second the cofee boy said "look, it's those dudes from adul swim")
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