Here's The Ridiculous Texas Law That Allows Law Enforcement To Pretend A Digital Clock Is A Hoax Bomb

from the everything's-bigger-in-Texas,-including-overbroad-wording dept

There may be some method behind the zero tolerance, racially-tinged madness of the Irving, Texas, police department. The department perp-walked fourteen-year-old Ahmed Mohamed out of school and into its welcoming arms for the crime of not building a bomb. It was a clock, but because it had wires and a circuit board and was contained in a metal case and was on school grounds and Ahmed Mohamed's name is Ahmed Mohamed, the police decided that if it wasn't a bomb, it was the next best thing: a "bomb hoax."

So, after handcuffing him "for his safety" (ACTUAL QUOTE) and holding the non-bomb "as evidence" of a crime that wasn't committed, the department has dropped all charges. It isn't very repentant, however, despite everyone else -- including the President of the United States -- expressing support for the student. It still claims everything about the horrendous debacle was by the book. And, sadly enough, it probably was.

Mark W. Bennett, a Houston (TX) criminal-defense lawyer, pointed out that the state's "hoax bomb" statute is not just the regular kind of Texas-sized overbroad, but perhaps unconstitutionally overbroad. In a series of tweets, he broke down just how insanely stupid the law is.

In case you can't see the embed, it says the following:
1/ A hoax bomb includes a device that by its design causes reaction of any type by an official of a public safety agency.

2/ Possessing a hoax bomb with intent to use it to cause reaction by an official of a public safety agency is a crime.

3/ A telephone is designed to call other telephones, making them ring, causing a reaction.

4/ So possessing a telephone with the intent to call the cops is a violation of Texas’s “hoax bomb” statute.

5/ Lesson: statute titles don’t mean anything.
Here's the actual language of the statute, which shows Bennett wasn't exaggerating.
Sec. 46.08. HOAX BOMBS.

(a) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly manufactures, sells, purchases, transports, or possesses a hoax bomb with intent to use the hoax bomb to:

(1) make another believe that the hoax bomb is an explosive or incendiary device; or

(2) cause alarm or reaction of any type by an official of a public safety agency or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies.
Well, Mohamed didn't pretend the clock was a bomb. Far from it. But that doesn't matter because of subsection (2), which takes away anything involving intent and puts it all in the fearful minds of nearly any government official. "Alarm or reaction of ANY type." How does one avoid causing an alarm or reaction in others, especially others that seem particularly easily alarmed? It's impossible.

Mohamed's science teacher wasn't alarmed, but he did remark that maybe Ahmed shouldn't show this project to anyone else. Mohamed didn't plan to, but the clock started beeping during another class and shortly thereafter, his English teacher started panicking. (But in the controlled sort of panic where a person demands someone hand over a bomb -- something no rational person would do if they actually thought the device in question was a bomb.)

Now, if we're going to play along with this statute's wordings, a whole lot of everyday items suddenly become much more "dangerous." Road flares, cell phones, batteries, a box full of wires, a vibrator, a doorbell, a power inverter… basically anything someone might feel could explode or could trigger an explosion would fall under the enormous shadow this statute casts.

But if we're going to play along with the police and the stupid law they used to defend their actions, we have to ask why several school officials -- including the English teacher who reported Mohamed to them -- weren't arrested as well. After all, they very likely knew they didn't have an actual "explosive or incendiary device" in their hands, and yet they approached the police department with claims that they did. This very definitely provoked a reaction and, at that point, the device was in the possession of school personnel. That's subsection (2).

By claiming a bomb was on the school's premises (when they likely knew it wasn't a bomb -- see also: no evacuation of the school, no warning sent to parents, etc.), they also violated subsection (1) of the statute:
make another believe that the hoax bomb is an explosive or incendiary device
Perp walking a few school officials out of the building and into squad cars would certainly teach them not to waste valuable law enforcement resources with stupid, fearful bullshit. But these actions would only be taken by a police department not so inclined to waste its own time investigating bombs that aren't bombs and arresting students who aren't criminals. And, as can clearly be seen, the Irving PD does not meet these standards.


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  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 17 Sep 2015 @ 9:00am

    "(2) cause alarm..."

    So, everyone in the state of Texas who owns an alarm click is in violation of the law?

    Because it looks to me those defending the action of the police are reading the law verbatim.

    There's not many times I'm proud of social media, but this time it certainly deserves kudos.

    The Irving PD should still be ashamed of themselves, but after the last press release, they refuse to take any responsibility for their idiotic action.

    Welcome to "Shoot first. Don't ask questions (or if you must, do it later)." law enforcement, America.

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    • identicon
      Ryunosuke, 17 Sep 2015 @ 12:45pm

      Re:

      actually is states "to cause alarm or any reaction" so anything that can cause ANY sort of reaction, be it from a phone, to a dildo, to Taco Bell, is inherently a hoax bomb under the letter of the law.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2015 @ 1:38pm

        Re: Re:

        You are a tool. Read the law, not the tweets.

        (a) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly manufactures, sells, purchases, transports, or possesses a hoax bomb with intent to use the hoax bomb to:
        (2) cause alarm or reaction of any type by an official of a public safety agency or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies.

        See how under the letter of the law it can't be a dildo or a taco bell as they were not knowingly manufactured with the intent of being a hoax bomb.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Manabi (profile), 17 Sep 2015 @ 3:14pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Ahmed's clock wasn't "knowingly manufactured with the intent of being a hoax bomb" and yet he was arrested under this statute. So either the police arrested him illegally, or they're legally interpreting the statute in such a way that would allow a dildo or a Taco Bell to also be included.

          So you have either:
          1. The police acted illegally the entire time.
          2. The law allows almost anything to be considered a hoax bomb by authorities.

          Neither is good.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2015 @ 8:17pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          See how under the letter of the law it can't be a dildo or a taco bell as they were not knowingly manufactured with the intent of being a hoax bomb.
          The text you quoted doesn't say the person has to intend it to be a hoax bomb, only that they intend to possess it to cause a reaction. Nor is any intent at time of manufacture needed, if there's intent at time of use.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Alien Rebel (profile), 17 Sep 2015 @ 2:43pm

      Re:

      "alarm click"


      I'm not familiar with this. If I had to guess, it's a recording of a 12 ga. pump chambering a round, to be played when someone rings the doorbell.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      trevor999 (profile), 18 Sep 2015 @ 4:15am

      Re:

      Everyone who owns a digital wrist watch with an alarm...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      madjo, 20 Sep 2015 @ 6:07am

      Re:

      Please, let the sleeping dog lie, don't own an alarm clock.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2015 @ 10:44am

    Texas, where your rights are a hoax

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      PRMan, 17 Sep 2015 @ 10:57am

      Re:

      It's so true. Texans act like they have SOOO much more freedom than every other American, but all I read are things like this that just make you scratch your head.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2015 @ 11:03am

        Re: Re:

        Texan here, no, there is NO illusion of rights down here, the shit you hear are mainly from the punks still running the show, ACTING like we ware so free. Plenty of us know better, but its difficult working sense into the unwashed masses over here.

        Here in Texas everything is bigger, including the insanity!

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2015 @ 10:47am

    The kind has no clothes on

    All of these reactions are from idiots who are actively demonstrating their lack of qualifications for the jobs they currently hold. Double down on idiocy and double down on how quickly you should be replaced. You over reacting to something innocent does not in any way transform something into a bomb. Your reactions are the problem, not the child being creative.

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  • icon
    SoggyBottoms (profile), 17 Sep 2015 @ 10:50am

    It is not only the police that over reacted, but the onus is on the stupid school officials.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    avideogameplayer, 17 Sep 2015 @ 10:56am

    This is the same state that fries retards and is proud of it...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2015 @ 11:00am

    damn

    *1/ A hoax bomb includes a device that by its design causes reaction of any type by an official of a public safety agency. *

    Any reaction is any reaction... this mean every device brought to school whether it be a positive or negative reaction is by the letter of the law a BOMB HOAX...

    this is beyond fucked up...

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2015 @ 11:05am

      Re: damn

      Its texas, I don't think they care how messed up it is.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2015 @ 11:09am

        Re: Re: damn

        Some of us do, but like just about every where else on the plant, there are not enough people willing to do anything to change it.

        If you go and talk to someone about it the general reaction is... we have much bigger fish to fry, then turn around and press the clicker on their Zenith B/W Space Command TV Set.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2015 @ 1:44pm

      Re: damn

      You are a tool. Read the law, not the tweets - contrary to what Cushing says , they do exaggerate .

      (a) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly manufactures, sells, purchases, transports, or possesses a hoax bomb with intent to use the hoax bomb to:
      (2) cause alarm or reaction of any type by an official of a public safety agency or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies.

      This means it has to be a device that is intended to be a fake bomb, and the reaction elicited has to be a reaction befitting the discovery of a bomb.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Kal Zekdor (profile), 17 Sep 2015 @ 3:21pm

        Re: Re: damn

        Ehhhh..... sort of. Here's the definition of a "Hoax Bomb" from the statute:
        Sec. 46.01. DEFINITIONS. (13) "Hoax bomb" means a device that:
        (A) reasonably appears to be an explosive or incendiary device; or
        (B) by its design causes alarm or reaction of any type by an official of a public safety agency or a volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies.

        And, for immediate, reference, the section quoted in the article regarding Hoax Bomb offenses (Class A misdemeanors):
        Sec. 46.08. HOAX BOMBS. (a) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly manufactures, sells, purchases, transports, or possesses a hoax bomb with intent to use the hoax bomb to:
        (1) make another believe that the hoax bomb is an explosive or incendiary device; or
        (2) cause alarm or reaction of any type by an official of a public safety agency or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies.

        So, you can run afoul of this statute in the following ways:

        1. Have an item that "reasonably appears to be an explosive or incendiary device" and intend to "make another believe [it] is an explosive". (What the statute was designed to prevent, I believe.)

        2. Have an item that by design causes a "reaction of any type" from a public safety official, and intend to "make another believe [it] is an explosive". (Arguably worse than above.)

        3. Have an item that, again, by design causes a "reaction of any type" from a public safety official, and intend to elicit a "reaction of any type" from a public safety official. (Now we start getting into grey areas. Wouldn't, say, a road flare qualify? It's an incendiary that is designed to cause a reaction, and if you use it to flag down a police car...)

        4. Have an item that "reasonably appears to be an explosive or incendiary device" and intend to elicit a "reaction of any type" from a public safety official. (This one is so vague as to be meaningless. Who governs the definition of "reasonable"? I would argue that no reasonable person would mistake that clock for a bomb, but that didn't stop some idiots from pretending anyway. The kid certainly didn't want any type of reaction from public safety officials, that was the teacher. As far as cell phones... if someone can mistake a cell phone for a gun, they can surely mistake a cell phone for a bomb. So, if a cell phone "reasonably" resembles a bomb, and you intend to use it to get the attention of a public safety official... Welcome to Texas, I guess.)

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2015 @ 3:46pm

        Re: Re: damn

        And you are apparently a person who learned debate and rhetoric at the Don Rickles School of Remedial Sociopathy.

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  • identicon
    Baron von Robber, 17 Sep 2015 @ 11:04am

    Of course the Texas police thought it was bomb. They can't tell time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2015 @ 11:08am

      Re:

      or their head from their asses, they regularly abuse authority to the point where they think its actually lawful for them to do it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 17 Sep 2015 @ 12:26pm

      Blinkenlights.

      Before the idiot box was the broadcast television receiver, it was a box with LEDs on the front that blinked pseudo-randomly as per the front display (or Blinkenlights of old slow computers circa 1960-1990.

      (These days, the little winking hard drive indicator and the throbber -- yes that's what it's called -- used in your webbrowser are the vestigals of blinkenlights. Mostly they indicate the computer hasn't locked up.)

      Someone should make a public art project of large, heavy boxes with blinkenlights on the front and an announcement totally not a bomb! distributed all over Irving.

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    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 18 Sep 2015 @ 6:24am

      Re:

      "It looked like a movie bomb." Seriously, that was their excuse. As Tim said, if they honestly thought it WAS a bomb they'd have evacuated the school. None of that happened.

      What actually happened was they taught a child to be mistrustful of grownups.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2015 @ 11:08am

    "despite everyone else -- **including the President of the United States** -- expressing support"

    There is a certain set of persons who may be digging their heels in precisely because of the emphasized phrase. Say no more. (And part of me suspects the President knew that).

    "A hoax bomb includes a device that by its design causes reaction of any type by an official of a public safety agency. "

    That includes police cars, reacting to 911 calls, not to mention police weapons used in reaction to suspected bad guys. Computers used by the DPS to react to applications for driver's licenses. And those DISPLAY UNITS that tell the next person in line to get to the counter where a DPS person will react to their approach. Morons.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2015 @ 11:17am

    The teachers/staff that reported him should be fired.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2015 @ 11:52am

      Re:

      > The teachers/staff that reported him should be fired.

      Make that arrested. Unlike the student, they presented a bomb hoax to the authorities, complete with reaction. Those involved in calling the police very obviously ran afoul of that law.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Alien Rebel (profile), 17 Sep 2015 @ 3:32pm

        Re: Re:

        Recall notices, like with cars, to past students might be nice, too--

        "Dear Graduate of MacArthur High School, Irving, Texas;

        This is to inform you that your education has been found to be grossly substandard, due to instructors who have since proven themselves to be utterly incompetent morons. If you have noticed that people you elected governor were not as smart as you'd hoped, despite their Poindexter glasses, that more of your kids have contracted STDs, despite the shuttering of women's health centers, and that your neighborhoods are less safe, even though more Texans are armed, it may be due to the substandard education you received. We urge you to consider additional education at accredited, reputable institutions to help remedy this situation."

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2015 @ 11:33am

    You're being a bit disingenuous in stating the violating the law requires no intent.

    Reading (a)(2) in its entirety, "[a] person commits an offense if the person knowingly manufactures, sells, purchases, transports, or possesses a hoax bomb with intent to use the hoax bomb to cause alarm or reaction of any type by an official of a public safety agency or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies."

    In other words, the person must (1) have known he or she has a hoax bomb and (2) possess the hoax bomb with the intent to use the hoax bomb to cause a reaction among officials. The first part would require the prosecutor to prove that Ahmed knew he was in possession of a hoax bomb, and the second part would require the prosecutor to prove that Ahmed specifically intended to use the hoax bomb he knowingly possessed to cause a reaction among officials (it went off accidentally).

    Also, all of this outrage is ridiculous. A briefcase that starts beeping out of nowhere could easily be misinterpreted as a bomb in a moment of panic. If this happened in some liberal area like DC, I'm sure people would just think it's an honest mistake and would be glad no one got hurt and that Ahmed wasn't detained for longer than necessary. But you gotta keep the "all conservatives are racist" narrative going.

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    • identicon
      Rich, 17 Sep 2015 @ 11:36am

      Re:

      Will you people stop with the "briefcase" nonsense. It was a small PENCIL case.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2015 @ 11:56am

      Re:

      You obviously missed the statements by the police. This isn't "all conservatives are racist" -- it's "the people involved in this situation are exhibiting anti-muslim tendencies, and would never have taken this so far without the religion/race/family association bits being thrown in."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2015 @ 1:05pm

        Re: Re:

        well in all fairness the over reaction from the other side tends to compensate.

        Had this kid been Caucasian in appearance, there would have been a lot less of an outcries and damn sure no invite to the White House, and with a DA still trying to prosecute the person.

        According to the usual data, being a Muslim actually saved this kid one metric fuckton of grief.

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    • identicon
      Michael, 17 Sep 2015 @ 12:07pm

      Re:

      Your reading is only valid if it is circular:

      "[a] person commits an offense if the person knowingly manufactures, sells, purchases, transports, or possesses a hoax bomb with intent to use the hoax bomb to cause alarm or reaction of any type by an official of a public safety agency or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies."

      Where it refers to "hoax bomb" is misleading because the police in this case took a clock as a hoax bomb. The official reading that justifies their arresting of the student turned the above statement into:

      "[a] person commits an offense if the person knowingly manufactures, sells, purchases, transports, or possesses an item with intent to use the item to cause alarm or reaction of any type by an official of a public safety agency or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies."

      If not, when the student called it a clock, they should have had no justification for arresting him. He did not build a hoax bomb, he built a clock and someone decided that it looked like a bomb and entirely ignored his intent.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2015 @ 1:37pm

      Re:

      > in a moment of panic
      This was no "moment". There was plenty of time to examine the non-exploding device to determine its nature.

      > A briefcase that starts beeping...
      whose owner opens it up with no sign of fear and shows it to the "responsible adult" in the room should be a huge sign that There Was No Danger.


      Unlike in the movies, real bombs don't beep. They just go boom.

      > "all conservatives are racist" narrative...

      It's not ALL conservatives, nor is it all CONSERVATIVES.

      It's the stereotype of "Arabic looks + even vaguely suspicious = ZOMG terrorists!" It's the stereotype of "black + fine car = stolen". It's the race to make an assumption based on media depictions without stopping to think it through.

      It's lazy thinking, and the willingness to aid and abet lazy thinking.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Joe Random, 17 Sep 2015 @ 4:35pm

      Re:

      It's not disingenuous at all. Look further up in the DEFINITIONS section:
      (13) "Hoax bomb" means a device that:
      (A) reasonably appears to be an explosive or incendiary device; or
      (B) by its design causes alarm or reaction of any type by an official of a public safety agency or a volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies.

      Take special note about how the word "OR" links (A) to (B).
      So the "intent" that is needed is to manufacture or possess, etc. a device that "causes a reaction" by a public safety / emergency official.

      In other words, a telephone totally qualifies.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JMT (profile), 17 Sep 2015 @ 7:06pm

      Re:

      "Also, all of this outrage is ridiculous."

      It's not an outrage borne of a single indecent. This weapons-grade stupidity is being demonstrated by school officials and LEO's on a painfully regular basis. It's like they've all decided mental scarring is a good education technique. See teen sexting and armed terrorism drills for other examples.

      "A briefcase that starts beeping out of nowhere could easily be misinterpreted as a bomb in a moment of panic."

      A moment of panic that should immediately be followed by logic and common sense overwhelming that panic, just before a wave of inner embarrassment for leaping to a stupid assumption based on watching too many movies, and promising not to tell anyone about your brief bout of stupidity.

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  • icon
    Matthew (profile), 17 Sep 2015 @ 11:34am

    Bennett is misreading this statute in the same way the cops are.

    First let me say that this whole thing is stupid and it is absolutely all about the fact that his name is "Ahmed Mohamed" and he has brown skin, and the police and school administrators should absolutely be held responsible.

    That said, there are problems with Mark Bennet's analysis. In section a, he is ignoring:
    "knowingly" and "with intent"

    The statute is clearly written to take intent into account. Section a is the meat of the statute and cannot be ignored.

    Subsections 1 & 2 are not background definitions or footnotes - they are the specific points that focus a's generalities. They do not take away intent; they clarify what the intent has to be.

    Ironically, in trying to make the Texas legislature responsible for what happened to Ahmed, Bennett is misreading the statute in the exact same way the cops do when they try to imply that it has bearing here.

    Cops and prosecutors will always do this to try and justify their actions and it's wrong. We should not stoop to that level just to spread more blame around.

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    • identicon
      Michael, 17 Sep 2015 @ 12:15pm

      Re: Bennett is misreading this statute in the same way the cops are.

      Read plainly straight-through you get this:

      A person commits an offense if the person knowingly manufactures, sells, purchases, transports, or possesses a hoax bomb with intent to use the hoax bomb to cause alarm or reaction of any type by an official of a public safety agency or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies.

      But remember, this is defining the term "hoax bomb", so you need to replace that term with "item" to POSSIBLY come to the conclusion that you can arrest someone that built a clock based on this law.

      Re-read as the police seem to have read it you get:

      A person commits an offense if the person knowingly manufactures, sells, purchases, transports, or possesses an item with intent to use the item to cause alarm or reaction of any type by an official of a public safety agency or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies.

      That can be legally argued and apparently is the way the police read the law.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JoeCool (profile), 17 Sep 2015 @ 11:38am

    Obvious

    Perp walking a few school officials out of the building and into squad cars would certainly teach them not to waste valuable law enforcement resources with stupid, fearful bullshit.


    Except those folk weren't brown people named "Ahmed". While the thought of them getting their just dessert is nice, don't ever forget the double standard.

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  • identicon
    David, 17 Sep 2015 @ 11:39am

    Punctuation question

    Is this a "hoax bomb" law or rather a hoax "bomb law"?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2015 @ 11:59am

    I know it's fun to throw some hate at Texas and to imply that Texas somehow has a corner on the stupid law department. However, you might want to check your State's laws. *Maybe* you don't have a "hoax bomb" law, but I'm pretty comfortable stating that legislative stupidity is endemic and that you're subject to something equally lacking in brilliance.

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    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 17 Sep 2015 @ 12:37pm

      We suspend kids for NRA shirts and pop-tart guns.

      But some of us oldies note that we didn't used to do that, even in California.

      The war on terror has the US terrorized.

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    • identicon
      Hans, 17 Sep 2015 @ 12:45pm

      Re:

      *Maybe* you don't have a "hoax bomb" law, but I'm pretty comfortable stating that legislative stupidity is endemic and that you're subject to something equally lacking in brilliance.

      Ah, of course, the "everyone else does it too" excuse. Did that work when you were 12?

      Texas is getting this hate, for this thing that was done in Texas by Texans. The hate thrown at them, as you put it, is entirely appropriate regardless of what happens in other states.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2015 @ 12:55pm

        Re: Re:

        Try paying attention - nothing there said it was OK. Do you therefore think it's OK that your State has a hoax bomb law or something equally stupid - because they weren't involved in this action? Instead of just deriding what someone else is doing, perhaps we should be directing the outage at the pervasive stupidity. It's not just the other guy affected by stupid laws and officials, it's all of us. Deflecting doesn't help anyone.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2015 @ 1:25pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Texan here, Hans is note entirely wrong, we do deserve the egg on our face for this, for very obvious reasons. I think the real problem is the idea put forth that Texas is unique in its stupidity when other states and including the federal gov have their own version of stupidity too that is just as flat on its face ridiculous.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2015 @ 6:26pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            No, there really is something special about Texas. All places have their share of crazy, but Texas reliably turns it up to 11.

            Y'all didn't get your widespread international reputation as painfully stupid bigots without working at it for quite some time.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2015 @ 12:01pm

    Excellent followup article. In the first paragraph, it should read hoax bomb, not bomb hoax.

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  • icon
    TheDudeAbides (profile), 17 Sep 2015 @ 12:04pm

    Texas acts like federal government

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  • identicon
    Hugues, 17 Sep 2015 @ 12:44pm

    Our loss of wisdom

    When I read articles about the situation I just think again about the very good TED conference from Barry Schwartz. Our loss of Wisdom.
    Collectively, these rules and regulations just dumb down an entire population. Nobody have wisdom nowday. Everything goes back to what in the books. Please don't think just follow rules.
    20 minutes of a wonderful speaker at TED conference.
    http://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schwartz_on_our_loss_of_wisdom

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mark Wing, 17 Sep 2015 @ 1:01pm

    Texas would return to the dark ages if left to its own devices.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2015 @ 1:12pm

      Re:

      Texas would return to the dark ages if left to its own devices.


      Yes, but will it still succeed if the devices are hoax devices?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 17 Sep 2015 @ 1:14pm

    Walk..

    Agree'd..

    It WASNT an incident until the teachers SAID IT WAS..

    Are we so dumb, that OUR teachers dont understand what an explosive IS..?
    For all that he had, to the teachers it could of been a PDA, a walkman, MP3 player...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 17 Sep 2015 @ 1:18pm

    No, you can't read a clause by itself

    ...with intent to use the hoax bomb to (2) cause alarm or reaction of any type...

    There was NO intent. It was a clock. That's it.

    The cops arrested him for "contempt of cop" because during interrogation (probably using a Reid Technique), he wasn't "forthcoming" - i.e. not admitting he did anything wrong.

    From a major city (Dallas metroplex), that has likely benefitted from Federal Terrorist training and dollars, that's pretty sorry a investigation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Quiet Lurcker, 17 Sep 2015 @ 1:38pm

    Anyone want to bet?

    Anyone want to bet the cops/prosecutor will go with the idea that the kid showing the thing to his engineering (or was it shop? - no matter) teacher constituted his intent to provoke a reaction within an organization organized to deal with emergencies. And as an aside, they'll assert that the schools are trained and organized to deal with active shooters, among other things.

    (a) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly manufactures, sells, purchases, transports, or possesses a hoax bomb with intent to use the hoax bomb to:

    . . .

    (2) cause alarm or reaction of any type by an official of a public safety agency or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies.


    Note the emphasis on "any" there. Sort of on the level of "the teacher liked it; that's a reaction'

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    tqk (profile), 17 Sep 2015 @ 1:44pm

    Valuable law enforcement resources?

    Perp walking a few school officials out of the building and into squad cars would certainly teach them not to waste valuable law enforcement resources with stupid, fearful bullshit.

    That would run counter to the current regime's policies. How would trillions of dollars wasted on fighting domestic insurgents be justified if the average citizen isn't being terrorized into believing it's necessary?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Pronounce (profile), 17 Sep 2015 @ 2:02pm

    Law Enforcement is Job Enforcement

    My local 7/11 has had two cases of people causing actual disturbances (one customer picked up a stool to hit another customer) and so they called the cops two blocks away (I was in the store at the time and heard the manager's end of the conversation). Neither time did any police do anything, nothing, not one thing, never, ever (I asked).

    So when I hear about the Irvine Incident I have to wonder why. And I think it's because the money (and jobs) are in terrorism and not general public service.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Pronounce (profile), 17 Sep 2015 @ 2:07pm

      Re: Law Enforcement is Job Enforcement

      I probably should have written "anti-terrorism", but it's the FUD around the buzzword terrorism that gets the money.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2015 @ 2:44pm

    Did I miss something here?

    Okay, reading the the text of the statute, specifically the part, "(a) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly manufactures, sells, purchases, transports, or possesses a hoax bomb with intent to use the hoax bomb to..." I'm thinking that the only person that qualified on the "intent to use" part was the teacher that called the police...

    Now I'm smiling, thinking of the teacher getting cuffed and perp-walked out of the school...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John85851 (profile), 17 Sep 2015 @ 2:47pm

    Was the bomb squad called in?

    I don't know if I missed this, but was the bomb squad or SWAT team ever called to verify and disarm the "bomb"? If not, then how is it a "hoax" when it was never a bomb in the first place?
    Oh, right, it's for the same reason that TSA won't let people take a bottle of water through security- it might be a bomb also... so just pitch your "bomb" into that trash can.

    So, yes, as the other posters are saying, the kid was walked out in handcuffs because he wasn't "confessing" to the police's already-established narrative that he made a bomb.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2015 @ 2:55pm

    I doubth anyone on scene was qualified to say for certain that its a bomb or not.
    What they did was at least mostly legal. The cops always take the safest route, even if it means they have to empty a whole mag into an innocent person because they are "afraid for their life", so nothing surprising in the things they did here.
    I think its more disturbing that the whole country treats the kid as a hero and offers him a lot of free shit when there are people who would deserve it more.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2015 @ 3:38pm

      Re:

      you mean telling the student he is not allowed to call his parents to let them know he has been arrested because he is under arrest.

      Or telling his father he is not allowed to talk to him or a lawyer because he is under arrest.

      How about forcing him to talk to 5 cops without a legal guardian present.

      All those things are illegal. if a cop breaks even 1 law in his pursuit of "justice" the whole case tends to get thrown out.

      A person's rights are not thrown out the window simply because the police believe they might be guilty otherwise that is called a police state where you have no rights when the police decide your rights would get in their way.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2015 @ 5:26pm

      Re:

      I doubth anyone on scene was qualified to say for certain that its a bomb or not.
      The lack of any explosives might be a clue that some people, despite not being part of a bomb squad, would be able to pick up on.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JMT (profile), 17 Sep 2015 @ 7:54pm

      Re:

      "I doubth anyone on scene was qualified to say for certain that its a bomb or not."

      You've looked at the photo right? You don't have to be "qualified" to know that's not a bomb, but the science teacher who saw it first was probably one of the best people on the scene to make a judgement call, and he's the only adult coming out of this mess looking alright.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2015 @ 3:32pm

    no crime has to be committed the police just have to decide they want ruin someone's life and its acceptable apparently to follow through.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2015 @ 3:54pm

    Please Texas, we give. Just secede already, we won't stop you this time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2015 @ 4:10pm

    Please explain the difference between a digital clock and a digital timing device used to set off a bomb.

    What!

    There is none. They are one and the same device.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 17 Sep 2015 @ 4:22pm

      Re:

      Correct. And your point was? Should he get suspension for bringing his fists to school, too? They could be used for beating someone up, you know.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 17 Sep 2015 @ 9:12pm

      Re:

      Please explain the difference between a car used for everyday driving and a car used for a hit and run.

      Just because something can be used for an illegal act, does not automatically mean it should be treated as though it has been. I'm guessing you regularly carry around any number of items that could be used for illegal acts, should you be arrested due to this, or should the assumption remain that the action, not the item is what counts?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    blogagog (profile), 17 Sep 2015 @ 4:32pm

    on the other side of this fence

    Normally, I side with the pessimistic anti-government view that tends to drive the posts here at techdirt. But not this time. If someone showed that 'clock' to me, I'd have thought 'bomb' too. And I put computers together (well, occasionally, once a week or so) as part of my job.

    It sucks that they arrested this kid, but every part up until that point is extremely reasonable imo.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2015 @ 5:43pm

      Re: on the other side of this fence

      Is it reasonable to decide that a random circuit board and LED display constitute a bomb, despite the fact that they're not connected to any explosives?

      Is it reasonable for someone who's just confiscated what she supposedly believes to be a real bomb to put said bomb in a desk drawer in her own classroom and continue teaching for a couple of hours before taking the device to the administration?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        EdwardWarren, 19 Sep 2015 @ 2:46pm

        Re: Re: on the other side of this fence

        At security in Heathrow Airport in London, they had me laboriously unload my small suitcase and then two inspectors carefully went through the contents because I had probably 4 wires and recharging devices crammed in it. They said that I should separate those wires into different suitcases to avoid having them go through my case in the future. They said wires like that make they suspicious and to be on the safe side they check them out. I am not brown, black, red or green so I couldn't sue or complain about racism. I am, seriously, glad they error on the side of caution for everyone's safety. Aren't you? Unless, of course, you aren't white and feel they are profiling you.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Allen (profile), 17 Sep 2015 @ 5:59pm

      Re: on the other side of this fence

      Thanks to Hollywood props departments, I suppose you might be forgiven if your first unconscious identification of a home made clock was "bomb". You don't control the pattern matching part of your brain.

      But surely your first actual conscious thought would be to question whether or not your ID "bomb" was reasonable? To continue to react on that first identification is more an indication of the absence of thought.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Atkray (profile), 17 Sep 2015 @ 6:55pm

    Handcuffed for his saftey

    Handcuffed for his safety should not have the quotes on it.

    It has been demonstrated time and again that the cops are much less likely to shoot you if you are handcuffed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 17 Sep 2015 @ 8:14pm

    Dumbest. Law. Ever

    "A hoax bomb includes a device that by its design causes reaction of any type by an official of a public safety agency."

    Over-broad? This is positively pan-galactic.

    According to this, a camera flash that causes a blink is a bomb. All those cellphones, I've seen a officials react to the phone ringing in their pocket...so they should be arrested, right?

    "Kid shakes teacher's hand with a hand buzzer...convicted of having a hoax megaton nuke. Details at 11."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 17 Sep 2015 @ 11:56pm

      Re: Dumbest. Law. Ever

      Actually, a complaint letter would qualify. Well, assuming that complaint letters cause a reaction of any type by an official of a public safety agency. Probably not. But in theory it could.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bruce, 19 Sep 2015 @ 8:14am

    Good piece on this "invention"

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

    Apparently not much of an invention at all. This write makes some interesting observations which I am sure will cause most here to gert a full body rash.

    I guess in today's world of school shootings teachers/police are tauyght to be vigilante except religion/race comes into play.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2015 @ 11:36am

      Re: Good piece on this "invention"

      The most important thing I learned from Anthony's post is that he could probably benefit from a little talk therapy & CBT.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 19 Sep 2015 @ 12:38pm

      Re: Good piece on this "invention"

      That's right! Only a terrorist would disassemble and rehouse a clock and claim it was his own design!

      ...


      I take you're looking for some way to dismiss master Ahmed as a thug? Because he's not (yet) a master engineer, the grief he's suffered should be dismissed? That's your best argument?

      The degree to which he took apart a clock or created a clock or even bought a clock on eBay that was already re-housed in a pencil case is now a vestigial issue in contrast to the fact that Irving teachers, school administrators and police officers mistook it for a friggin' bomb. And then tried to get him to sign a friggin' confession on the grounds that, because he was a brown Muslim boy named Ahmed Muhammed, he had to be a baby terrorists playing pretend-terrorist blow-up-the-white-people enthusiastic about his future terrorist career as a terrorist bombmaker.

      In fact, your article does confirm that what he made and brought to school was, in fact, a clock, and the only reason it was regarded as other than a clock was his groovy tan and exotic name.

      Engineers start somewhere, and that might be taking apart and rehousing store-bought clocks. That doesn't in any way make him less what he claimed to be.

      An old saying suggests that when you see a pig fly, you don't criticize it for wobbling or not staying up very long. You certainly don't shoot at it like a timely clay pigeon.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        EdwardWarren, 19 Sep 2015 @ 2:35pm

        Re: Re: Good piece on this "invention"

        The kid claimed it was an invention and as a result got showered with praise, scholarship offers and even an offer to show his 'invention' to the President. He was hailed as a boy genius that would save the world or be the next Steve Jobs at least. All he did, as shown on a website called Instructibles and by some engineers who reverse engineered what was shown in the pictures, was remove the case from a clock and put it in a box. That is evidence of being genius? We are really really dumbing down the word 'genius'. The President, Hillary Clinton, Mark Zuckerberg, MIT, etc all look like fools.

        The teachers, administrator, and police were, I am sure, all following detailed procedures that have come about after Columbine, Sandy Hook, etc. that are designed to protect students from being slaughtered. These procedures have replaced something known as COMMON SENSE. 8 year old kids are now in danger of going to prison for taking their fingers or pieces of food and pointing them at someone. The teachers, administrators, and police are doing what the public wants them to. It is not an issue unless the kid in not a white kid. We will watch and see if the only person in this event who did use common sense, the engineering teacher (surprise, surprise), is fired or discipline for not following procedures and turning the kid in. He is the real bad guy if you are for preventing the next school shooting, bombing or whatever. The others were only playing by the rules. Except you can only do that when the kid is white.

        The kid is set for life after getting a free ride at MIT, boat loads of money from the lawsuits and all the recognition and praise from the people playing the usual racial politics with this. Those hurt feelings are long gone I am sure.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2015 @ 3:49pm

          Re: Re: Re: Good piece on this "invention"

          Firstly, he never said he'd invented it, he just said it was a clock in a pencil case.
          Secondly it was obvious that it was the insides of a digital clock.

          http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/sep/17/ahmed-mohamed-is-tired-excited-to-meet-obama-and-want s-his-clock-back

          This article is worth a read, it contains background information. He's been taking things to school for years, trouble is he just started a new school.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 19 Sep 2015 @ 4:12pm

          Still sounds like a way to dismiss the transgressions against Ahmed.

          The kid claimed it was an invention and as a result got showered with praise

          If I recall correctly, the kid claimed it was a project and got showered with suspicion. The praise and offers are in response to his own society treating him unduly like a criminal. It was sympathy and contrition even when not done by those people who really should be contrite.

          All he did...was remove the case from a clock and put it in a box. That is evidence of being genius?

          What matters at this point is that it's not evidence of being terrorism, which is how the whole thing started. This is not about giving Ahmed credit for being a genius, it's about giving him a proper opportunity to be a genius, a thing that most kids in the United States don't get. And the US is so apathetic about its children that it takes a brown kid getting a special deal before we realize that maybe we should put more into their welfare and education.

          The teachers, administrator, and police were, I am sure, all following detailed procedures...

          Which, in this case, included depriving the child from access to his guardians or legal council all the while they tried to get him to sign a confession. If that was proper protocol, then maybe it shouldn't be?

          What they did was freak out and then fail to recognize the child as a human being and American citizen, hence denying him civil rights that are (allegedly) due anyone. And all the reaction to this is due to their screw-up, not the kid's amazing genius.

          Fortunately this isn't how kids with clocks are supposed to be regarded by school administrators. Unfortunately, it doesn't matter, as this case shows, that's how kids with clocks are treated by school administrators.

          And I'd gleefully eat crow if the principal or any of the police officers get dismissed from their positions for how they acted in this incident. (Without getting quietly rehired elsewhere, preferably, thank you).

          These procedures have replaced something known as COMMON SENSE.

          Nitpick: common sense isn't a thing, except a political catch word to push agendas. It wasn't even a thing when it was called horse sense, ignoring that a horse will fight to stay in it's own stall as the barn burns down.

          The closest things we have to common sense include such notions as: Strangers of different colors are bad -- Throw rocks at them and Authority is always right, unless they're persecuting your dear friend in which case they're always wrong..

          Consider rationality instead. Few people can do it consistently and across a wide spectrum of topics. It's part of the reason why people in authority can react to clocks like apes encountering a serpent.

          And despite that we are all in a tizzy about acts of terror and school shootings (thanks to the media glorifying every single incident in a population of 4.2 million), neither terror nor school shootings really kill that many children compared to negligent parents, crosswalks or even vaccine denialism. In fact, schools are safer than they've ever been, and one of the safest places for your child.

          The kid is set for life after getting a free ride at MIT...

          One can only hope. Also one can only hope that future kids with clocks or other electromechanical projects don't get punished for showing initiative.

          You seem to be yearning for a notion called proportionality, e.g. a fair day's pay for a fair day's work. I have a rant on this that I've expressed here before, specifically that proportionality was the American Dream until the California Gold Rush, at which point the American Dream became getting rich quick by hacking the system. Hence, it's good to be a lawyer. Less so an engineer.

          But we don't have consistent work-for-pay, and brown people get paid less than white people (and women less than men). And plenty of people who are desperate to work can't get jobs, and many of those jobs are overworked, underpaid and allow for management-employee abuse. This is the messed up economy and job market awaiting Ahmed and all of his peers, because the US doesn't give two shits about its future generations.

          That said, Ahmed got lucky and that's how you win in the US. If it makes you feel better, plenty of kids like Ahmed don't get lucky and instead just get their lives ruined (e.g. imprisoned and unable to find work outside the criminal market). And you don't have to see them because they don't make big news. They certainly don't make FOX news.

          Ahmed, if he does become an engineer will make real product and modest pay for it, while the rich guys who hire him will make from his creations a higher order of magnitude from profits. STEM professions are difficult and do not pay well. And Ahmed will live a middle class American life unless he wins the lottery again. (Most Steve Jobs types don't actually get to be Steve Jobs. Incidentally, it was Steve Wozniak that did the engineering gruntwork to start Apple. Jobs did the marketing.)

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2015 @ 3:48pm

    Lesson to legislators

    Feelings are a goddamn horrible basis for making any law. In effect it encourages and rewards insanity by giving an advantage to whatever emotional state. See "feared for life" for prior examples.

    The cynic may suggest that this is by design and they want to promote fear above all else to give themselves power.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lazarus, 19 Sep 2015 @ 5:26pm

    I see this article didn't bother to show its readers what the 'click' looked like. It's look exactly like every Hollywood movie suitcase bomb you've ever seen. If you were a responsible teacher, you'd have had it inspected just to be sure.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      GEMont, 19 Sep 2015 @ 8:02pm

      Re:

      ..and yet not one teacher, administrator, cop or adult involved in this situation, who actually saw the "clock", felt for even one instant, that it was actually a bomb, since absolutely none of them treated the clock like it was a bomb - no alert, no bomb squad, no evacuation, no fear at all of an explosion... they OBVIOUSLY KNEW it was NOT a BOMB!!!

      It would be extremely amusing methinks, to learn how these same adults would react to a bowling ball with a candle wick sticking out of one of the holes. After all, that would be nearly identical to every Bugs Bunny Cartoon bomb ever seen.

      ---

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Prawn!, 19 Sep 2015 @ 5:41pm

    Head, meet nail.

    This is the most accurate analysis and would help any judge keep this out of a trial.

    Thank you for this!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Robert, 1 Oct 2015 @ 9:12am

    stupid article is stupid

    Stupid article is stupid and a deliberate distortion of the facts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Scott, 21 Oct 2015 @ 2:30pm

    Did you see the picture?

    So if that was left on your doorstep and started beeping, your heart wouldn't skip a beat?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 6:11am

    Are all you people mentally challenged?
    The law for a bomb hoax is not just "cause alarm or reaction of any type by an official of a public safety agency or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies". It clearly fucking states that a bomb hoax is when a person "manufactures, sells, purchases, transports, or possesses a hoax bomb" with intent to "cause alarm or reaction..." or are you all too fucking stupid to see that parts (1) and (2) of the law are followed on from (a) and are not independent?

    Little Ahmed clock boy did in fact create the device that looks like a bomb and set it to go off in class to get a reaction (because showing it to all his teachers didn't get enough of a reaction as they all told him to put it away because it looked like a bomb), so by law the police had to be informed and by law they had to detain him for a "bomb hoax" which is what he did. The teachers didn't think ti was a bomb, the principle didn't think it was a bomb but they are liable to face charges if they didn't inform the police about this obvious bomb hoax.

    If you think Ahmed's bomb hoax should be ignored then you must think all bomb hoaxes should be ignored because none of them are real bombs right? Not a single bomb hoax is a real bomb you morons so saying its not a bomb means jack shit. How crazy would it be if everyone was allowed run around with fake bombs set to beep in the middle of crowds of people, crowds of students no less? Bomb hoaxes need to be taken seriously by the authorities in all cases and the teachers are not the correct authority to deal with bomb hoaxes in schools.

    The real racists here are all you racist fucks that think just because the teachers are Texans that they are all Islamophobes. Ahmed knew full well what he was doing and knew full well his "clock" resembled a bomb, he showed several teachers before the authorities were called and they all told him that it resembled a bomb and that he should put it away, it was only after he had set the alarm to go off in the middle of class did the authorities get informed and rightly so in a country where school shootings and the like are commonplace.

    I suppose everyone should just ignore all of the many other cases where white students were treated in the same manner? such as the 16 year Student in Summerville High School who was actually fucking charged with disorderly conduct for making a gun shape with his fingers pretending to shoot at dinosaurs, but because he is white no one is crying about the teachers being racist or bigots and are quite happily keeping quiet about his arrest.

    You people annoy me to no end, get your facts straight, learn to read properly and stop being so quick to judge people before you know the full story, you people are the real bigots.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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