Media

Remixed Propaganda Posters

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London has a new poster campaign asking citizens to report potential terrorist photogs, cell phone users, and house dwellers on an "anonymous anti-terror hotline" ("Terrorism: If you suspect it, report it.") The original posters say things like "Thousands of people take photos everyday. What if one of them seems odd?"[PDF] and "Thousands of people have mobiles. What if someone with several seems suspicious?"[PDF].

Naturally, parodies have sprung up.

Here's my favorite (and a favorite of Cory Doctorow), despite the slightly dumb use of that much-abused word, fascism, from Flickr user illegalphotos:

poster remix

For more on the joys of living in the remix age, stay tuned for my upcoming review of Matt Mason's book on the subject, The Pirate's Dilemma, in the next issue.

In the meantime, tide yourself over with one of my favorite pieces remixed WWII propaganda. Also, this one, a close second in that genre.

NEXT: What is Endangered: Climate or Freedom? And Just How Sensitive is the Climate Anyway?

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  1. Regarding Ms Mangu-Ward’s favorite WWII parody poster: ReasonCorp ought to hang that on TheirWalls. It is FarTooAppropriate. I doubt ReasonWriters would bite TheHandsThatFeedThem.

  2. This reminds me of the “Report Suspicious Activity!” signs all along I-95. What the hell would I report?

    “Hey, look! A Pakistani guy running a minimart at the rest stop! Oh noes!”

  3. “Thousands of people take photos everyday. What if one of them seems odd?”

    You mean, like, if the focus is off?

  4. If every freedom-loving Briton would make just one bogus call per day to that anonymous tipline, the whole thing would collapse in a spectacular and highly amusing failure.

  5. I remember being “detained” by police for accidentally taking a photo of their police station. (It was behind a fountain, there were cute girls involved, I did not even see the damn cop shop. Honest!) Luckily our guide showed up and pried me loose.

    Of course, that was in Communist Romania, while it was still behind the Iron Curtain.

    Winston is spinning in his grave. I think it’s time for Arthur to return.

  6. What if the photographer is walking funny?

    There should be a special ministry in charge of that.

  7. I like how one of the posters tells you to let an experienced officer decide if their suspicion is well grounded.

    What, like the time they shot that Brazilian guy for no reason?

    Given that Britain has cooperated with the US in renditing suspects for torture, if you report anything you see as “suspicious” you may be involving yourself morally in the torture of an innocent. Until you can be absolutely sure that anyone you report will be given due process [or at least its pale British equivalent] you should report nothing, no matter how suspicious, lest black crimes be on your hands and head.

  8. Major Matt Mason?

  9. Calling a program asking civilians to report each other to the government for vaguely-defined “suspicious activities” is not the dumbest use of the word “fascism” i’ve ever seen

  10. I do find it revealing that the creators of the poster presume that ordinary citizens are to stupid and bigoted to be able to honestly judge whether something looks out of the ordinary. This isn’t a statement about the encroachment of the state but rather about the screaming elitism of its creators.

    Assuming that most people are idiots inflates the ego of some but I think the hard data suggest otherwise. These awareness campaigns are based on the hindsight realization that prior to many major acts of public violence (terrorism, mass shootings etc) ordinary citizens made reports of suspicious activity that were ignored or that they failed to report because they didn’t want to stir anything up.

    Frankly, I would rather live in a society where people pay attention accept responsibility and take action even with all the tradeoffs that implies than I would to live in a society of passive sheep who stumble through life oblivious and trusting in the great god of the state to protect them.

  11. Major Matt Mason?

    Dang. I thought that. I didn’t say it, though, because I thought nobody could possibly get the reference. One of the saddest days of my childhood was when my dog chewed up the Major.

  12. Shannon-

    I get what you’re saying, but keep in mind that life is full of strange happenings and 99.9% of them don’t lead to terrorist activity. As long as the consequences of being a “terrorism suspect” are severe, I’m very reluctant to call the cops unless I’m absolutely sure.

    I’m reminded of the guys a couple summers ago who went around the country buying pre-paid cell phones in states where they were cheap, and sold them in places where they were more expensive. Poor guys were of Middle Eastern descent, and they were driving a van on a bridge in Michigan. They were held a few days, and even after the FBI realized they weren’t terrorists it still took a few more days for local authorities to drop the charges.

    I’m not about to subject anybody to that treatment just because I see a Pakistani guy with a camera phone hanging out all day in front of an office building and seeming kind of agitated. It’s far more likely that he’s agitated because he’s waiting for somebody whose errands and appointments are going WAY over, and he’s texting his friends to relieve boredom.

  13. BTW, you draw a false dichotomy here:

    Frankly, I would rather live in a society where people pay attention accept responsibility and take action even with all the tradeoffs that implies than I would to live in a society of passive sheep who stumble through life oblivious and trusting in the great god of the state to protect them.

    My reluctance to call State Security has nothing to do with trusting the state to protect me so that I don’t have to. Rather, I don’t trust them, and I feel a responsibility to not send my fellow citizens to jail for acting weird while having the wrong skin tone.

  14. Mike Laursens of the World,

    Indeed. That was an awesome set of toys.

  15. Well they might be on the fire escape
    They might be down the hall
    They might be watching every
    Move you make
    Through the pinhole in the wall
    They’re sworn to their duty
    And they stand so proud and tall
    They say it’s nothing personal
    It’s just a job that’s all

  16. Frankly, I would rather live in a society where people pay attention accept responsibility and take action even with all the tradeoffs that implies than I would to live in a society of passive sheep who stumble through life oblivious and trusting in the great god of the state to protect them.

    Frankly, I would rather ignore something suspicious and have Shannon’s house blown up than I would to report some poor schmuck who ends up getting sent to Syria or Afghanistan to be tortured, as the US and Canada admit has been done.

  17. This kind of shit always makes me hesitant to so much as walk 5 feet away from my carry-on while at the airport.

  18. This kind of shit always makes me hesitant to so much as walk 5 feet away from my carry-on while at the airport.

    If you do, Shannon will call the cops on you. Better safe than sorry.

    This is Shannon’s idea of being responsible, but I’m not sure that Shannon will accept any responsibility for whatever torture you endure as a consequence.

  19. We had a family friend whose neighbors reported him for “suspicious activity” and men showed up at his door one day and took him to DC for questionning. He was European… and not even ethnic.

  20. I should say “have” and “is,” because he was returned safely

  21. Thanks for referencing Micah Wright’s work. If not for the fact that his trumped-up (or is it “enhanced”?) personal story was in resume- rather than in memoir-form, he’d be a pretty big star in liberal and libertarian circles. As it is, I’m glad he’s still working on and making some money with his Remixed Propaganda projects.

    I’m both proud and a bit dismayed to say that I’m among those who he first lied to way back when. I now wish to offer my heartfelt contratulations on his getting past the career suicide attempt.

  22. What, like the time they shot that Brazilian guy for no reason?

    Kind of off topic…

    A couple of months ago, I was talking to a gentleman about what happened. The gentleman was a British National who now lives in the US and works in the finacials industry. A guy I assumed based on his line of work of being anti-big government, anti-regulation etc..

    At some point the topic turned to the British government and the shooting of the Brazilian man. I expressed outrage at the actions of the police and their tactics, and his response was basically….”well he shouldn’t of ran from the police”. When I asked if he really believes that running from the police is an executable offense he reiterated his belief that yes, it’s too bad he died, but it his own fault for running. When I asked him if it mattered to him that the police were undercover and didn’t actually identify themselves as police and the poor guy didn’t know if they were muggers or what..he said “he still should not have ran. Since he was in a public subway he had no reason to fear from the approaching men”.

    At which point I said “with attitudes like that, no wonder your country is so fucked up” and I walked away.

    That exchange still leaves me shaking my head today.

  23. Chicago Tom,

    As far as I know Menezes entered the station, etc. as any other normal passenger would. He was not – in other words – running from the police to the best of my knowledge.

  24. I think my favorite poster I’ve seen for the smoking ban in the Cleveland area is up at the Beachland Ballroom. It’s got the 1984 eye, and suggests that you report all smoking violations to the Anti-Sex League.

    And for other good retro-styled posters, check out one of my favorite magazine’s merch page.

    Nephilium

  25. These awareness campaigns are based on the hindsight realization that prior to many major acts of public violence (terrorism, mass shootings etc) ordinary citizens made reports of suspicious activity that were ignored or that they failed to report because they didn’t want to stir anything up.

    Well, if valuable reports of suspicious activity have, in the past, been ignored, I utterly fail to see how encouraging more citizens reports will encourage public officials to take citizens’ reports more seriously. If anything, it would accomplish the opposite, for reasons I would hope are obvious.

    As for latter part, is that even true? Can that even be ascertained with much certainty, given that the information would have to be collected afterwards, when anyone could say, “Oh, I knew something was awry!” with hindsight? Anyway, the better way to encourage people not to worry about stirring things up would be to reduce police over reactions such that citizens would have less reason to shy away from such stirring up.

  26. What is wrong with this. You should be aware of what is going on. In NYC we have if you see something, say something.

  27. What is wrong with this. You should be aware of what is going on. In NYC we have if you see something, say something.

    I see something!

  28. At first I thought that the real ones were jokes too-just not as funny.

  29. The kind of paranoia the men in black seem to like to engender can work against them. I used to work with a woman of Armenian heritage who spoke and wrote fluent Arabic. I told her she could make a lot of money working for the FBI or CIA as a translator (this was in 2005, they were begging for Arabic translators). She had been born in Iraq, though, and was afraid that she would come under some kind of suspicion due to that.

  30. The WWII remixes remind me of one that I saw somewhere on a gun-related site (I can’t find it now). It was an actual poster from the war with a picture of a soldier holding his M1 Garand rifle. It said “The M-1 does my talking. Are you careful about what you say or write?”.

  31. As far as I know Menezes entered the station, etc. as any other normal passenger would. He was not – in other words – running from the police to the best of my knowledge.

    Calidore,

    I don’t remember all the facts (and i use that word loosely because of the changing official story) but I seem to remember that when the undercover officials approached him he ran from them. They never identified themselves as police or anything though.

  32. I spotted a Jovian alien with a bi-lobed transparent green head loitering suspiciously around the Lunar Space Station, right where I parked the Space Crawler.

  33. ChicagoTom, I just had a crazy moment of synthesis. Our Dear Mayor just announced that we’re going to get another two hundred and twenty red-light cameras. It would sure be something if people reported each one as a “suspicious device.” Just sayin’…

  34. thoreau,

    I get what you’re saying, but keep in mind that life is full of strange happenings and 99.9% of them don’t lead to terrorist activity.

    Actually it more like %99.999, or one in 10,000. Thats for reports that lead to more than a cursory investigation. Only a tiny fraction of those reports will turn out to be lead to more than a cursory investigation. Any system designed to sift for terrorist will spend the vast majority of its resources excluding people. Signal intelligence, agents, airport screenings etc all must process hundreds of thousands people for every positive they find.

    Deal with it. It’s physics. It’s just the way it has to be done.


    I’m not about to subject anybody to that treatment just because I see a Pakistani guy with a camera phone hanging out all day in front of an office building and seeming kind of agitated.

    You mean, you wouldn’t turn him in even if you thought something was really, really wrong? Do you have so little confidence in your own assesment? Are you so rent by bigotry that you can’t trust yourself to determine if somebody is acting strange? Are you going to go investigate yourself?

    Maybe you should get help. Your self image seems damaged.


    My reluctance to call State Security has nothing to do with trusting the state to protect me so that I don’t have to.

    Sorry but unless you are encouraging vigilante action your are doing just that. People can either be involved in protecting themselves or they become passive wards of the state. I have seen the difference between people who live in small towns were people are active and those who live in urban areas and are passive. People who walk around with their heads down ignoring what they see or who fail to act on what they see are sheep no matter how you dress it up.

    If people aren’t engaged then that empowers the state. The road to slavery isn’t as linear and simplistic as you imagine.

  35. Your supposed to end your lunar radio transmissions with, “Over!”

  36. You mean, you wouldn’t turn him in even if you thought something was really, really wrong?

    Can’t speak for thoreau, but I wouldn’t need a lot of stupid signs to tell me to turn in people who are doing something really, really wrong.

  37. Sorry but unless you are encouraging vigilante action your are doing just that. People can either be involved in protecting themselves or they become passive wards of the state. I have seen the difference between people who live in small towns were people are active and those who live in urban areas and are passive. People who walk around with their heads down ignoring what they see or who fail to act on what they see are sheep no matter how you dress it up.

    It’s not about ignoring what I see, it’s about realizing that I’m almost certainly wrong in my initial hunch. I’d have to be pretty darn sure about something before I’d call the authorities. And my distrust of the authorities means I have an even higher threshold than I might otherwise have.

    If I see a situation that raises my suspicion, I have a decision to make: Do I run the risk of doing nothing and letting a bad thing happen, or do I run the risk of calling in a false alarm and letting somebody get sucked into a Kafkaesque nightmare. Given that very real and very innocent people have been jailed and in some cases even tortured based on hunches that turned out to be wrong, this is not an easy decision. If I knew that the downside of calling in a false alarm was just a small bit of hassle as the cop shows up, interviews people, and sends them on their way with an apology after realizing the mistake, I’d call him. But if there’s a real risk that somebody will wind up in the system (e.g. the cell phone entrepreneurs on that Michigan bridge who spent a few days in jail even after the FBI cleared them) or worse (e.g. Khaled El Masri, who wasn’t actually a suspect but had a similar name and got send off for torture “on a hunch”), then I need to be pretty darn sure before I call it in.

    No matter what decision I make, I’m taking a risk with the lives of others. The fact that I don’t always trust the authorities does not make me a passive ward of the state.

    It’s kind of funny to hear you argue that not calling the authorities makes you a passive ward of the authorities. Next you’ll explain that four legs are good and two legs are better.

  38. Oh, and you could argue that the incidents that I cite are pretty rare. And they are. So are real terrorist attacks. This is about comparing two low probability events. Interestingly, the number of times that an innocent person has been tortured by the US over the past several years almost certain exceeds the number of terrorist attacks attempted on US soil in the past several years. (Unless the number of attacks thwarted in secret is so much larger than we realize.)

  39. I don’t see how encouraging the state to fuck with people is being less of a passive ward of the state. Now, trying to stop the state from fucking with people, that would qualify. Anyway, we’re talking about state action here regardless. Personally, I’ll do what I think is right whether the state encourages me to do what it thinks is right or not.

  40. “I don’t see how encouraging the state to fuck with people is being less of a passive ward of the state.”

    That assumes that the state should never fuck with anyone. Of course that is not true. In Britian the perpatrators of the 7-11 bombings most assuredly needed to be fucked with. Is ityour position that if you would never call the police no matter how suspicious the person’s actions? Just let them blow up innocent people becuase you are afraid they might be sent to Afghanistan? If not, then when would you call the police? If so, then you are either a supporter of murder or the listless sheep Shannon Love accuses you of being.

  41. Is ityour position that if you would never call the police no matter how suspicious the person’s actions?

    No, but my burden of proof before I make the call is higher because I know that the authorities make some pretty spectacular mistakes in cases of alleged terrorism.

  42. Shannon, John,

    What do you suggest we do given the fact that terrorists are now aware that looking suspicious will attract attention and then they start getting smart and do their best not looking suspicious. They are bloody terrorists, yes, but I would not undermine their intelligence. The danger as I see it is that “looking suspicious” may eventually be just “looking Arab” or Pakistani, or whatever. What do we do then?

  43. Is ityour position that if you would never call the police no matter how suspicious the person’s actions? Just let them blow up innocent people becuase you are afraid they might be sent to Afghanistan?

    My, what a cogent summation of the foregoing positions.

    Am I getting this right? Take charge of your life, citizen, and inform on complete strangers wherever you see actions that confuse, annoy or make you uneasy. Because people who are acting “suspiciously” are like mass murderers, and clearly deserve whatever fucking-with the government can dish out.

    Thoreau, a burden of proof just doesn’t matter to some people. Someone else will always carry the burden. Your good faith arguments are wasted.

  44. The first poster contains an ambiguity: When I first read it I wondered, “Who cares if the photos are brown?”

    So…it doesn’t get my vote.

  45. You people are our best asset. Please keep it up.

    And vote Obama!

  46. Stevo,

    I had the alien and the Space Crawler. All gone, now, along with his majorness.

  47. Winston is spinning in his grave. I think it’s time for Arthur to return.

    Nice, LarryA.

  48. Remember, Arabs taking flying lessons who keep insisting they don’t need to know how to land are NOT a threat, and you are an insensitive bigot if you report them.

    And if they do kill thousands of people, it’s America’s fault for being such a racist nation.

  49. Oh, go fuck yourself, TallDave.

    You know good and fucking well nobody said anything of the sort.

    But you’ll keep spreading lies won’t you?

    Fucking asshole.

  50. I’m with thoreau on this, as usual.

    A couple of additional points :

    – First, the best way to beat intelligence-gathering systems is to flood them with conflicting information; even if the ‘right’ data is also picked up, it gets lost in the noise. These kinds of hot-lines are practically begging to get burned that way, whether by accident or design.

    – Second, they’re also just begging to be abused by people with private grudges to settle. Every other informant system in history has been used that way – why should this one be immune? Paranoid security apparatus prone to making ghastly mistakes plus anonymous hot-line… yeah, unless you’re universally beloved, you’d better be accompanied everywhere by a team of lawyers and a bought-and-paid-for MP.

  51. Is ityour position that if you would never call the police no matter how suspicious the person’s actions? Just let them blow up innocent people becuase you are afraid they might be sent to Afghanistan? If not, then when would you call the police? If so, then you are either a supporter of murder

    Nope, I would never call the police.

    No, I am not a supporter of murder.

    The state owes the populace due process. In the absence of due process, anyone who informs – on any basis – is a toady to tyranny.

    In a situation where due process is guaranteed, you can be sanguine about reporting suspicious behavior, because you can defer judgment on your suspicions to the legal process. In the absence of due process, if you inform on someone and an innocent person ends up being harmed, you are complicit in whatever happens to them, exactly as if you were involved in a conspiracy.

    And our government explicitly states that terrorism suspects have no due process rights. It explicitly states that individuals who have tortured prisoners in custody have immunity for their actions.

    It is morally bankrupt to turn a human being over to such a system and such a state on the basis of “a hunch”. And it will remain so until due process is restored to the system.

  52. All we need is Lefty and Lazarus to start duking it out, and we’ve got ourselves a classic hier!

  53. The state owes the populace due process. In the absence of due process, anyone who informs – on any basis – is a toady to tyranny.

    Thank you, Fluffy. Your post said what needed to be said, and far more eloquently than I would have.

  54. (Unless the number of attacks thwarted in secret is so much larger than we realize.)

    Given the TSA PR effort, I’d guess the number of attacks thwarted in secret approaches zero.

    What do you suggest we do given the fact that terrorists are now aware that looking suspicious will attract attention and then they start getting smart and do their best not looking suspicious. … What do we do then?

    Around here it’s called “DTC.” (Driving Too Carefully) If you travel a couple of MPH under the speed limit, come to a complete stop for stop signs, stay an extra few yards from the car in front of you, etc. you can get pulled over as a possible drug mule.

  55. “If every freedom-loving Briton would make just one bogus call per day . . .”

    30 calls a day aren’t nearly enough.

  56. LarryA- So acting normal is also suspicious. Sheesh!

  57. On the topic of acting normal being suspicious:

    3 gas station owners are in jail. The first one says “I charged more than the guy down the block, so they got me for price gouging. What about you guys.” The second one says “I charged less than the guy down the block, so they got me for predatory pricing.” The third one says “And I thought I was so much smarter than both of you when I charged the same as the guy down the block, but then they got me for collusion.”

  58. Fluffy you would never call the police? So if I show up at you house tonight well armed and ambush you with the intent on murdering you, raping your wife and stealing everything you own, you wouldn’t call the police because they wouldn’t give me due process? Or better yet, if you hear a woman being attacked and screaming outside your door by a group of armed men and you have no way to defend her yourself, you wouldn’t call the police? Or is it okay to kill people as long as it is not you? You are exactly the mindless sheep that Shannan was talking about.

  59. Remember, everybody: due process, governmental oversight and the rule of law itself can all be tossed overboard if they get in the way of government’s primary responsibility: protecting cowards like Shannon, John and TallDave from the stench of their own chickenshit.

  60. Jennifer,

    So if someone breaks into your house at night you won’t call the police or if someone is loitering around you and follows you home and stands outside your house you wouldn’t call the police? No nothing suspicious here. Give me a break. If that ever happened you would be on the phone to 9-11 screaming for help. If you don’t think that is true and you would just defend yourself, you are either crazy or have never been in a real life threatening situation. Stop calling people chickenshit for doing exactly what you would do.

  61. Yeah Big bad Jennifer. Your average common street criminal much less a terrorist would knock your teeth in before you could do squat. Even if you had a gun, chances are you would fuck up and miss. Either way, if you were ever in real danger, you would expect the cops and the justice system to save you. Not that there is anything wrong with that. You should expect that. But please spare us the bullshit about not needing the cops and not wanting to call them. If someone were attacking you and you were screaming for help, I am damn sure you wouldn’t want fluffy or anyone else who could hear you to call the cops. I guess that means you are chickenshit. Thank you for providing reason number 1 million why most libertarians are not serious people.

  62. Actually, John, you’re creating a fictional situation which doesn’t even have to do with what’s being discussed here, which is the reporting of ill defined “suspicious” behavior.

    You are making an assumption based upon a forced entry into a private residence at night, which is not being discussed here.

    Fluffy said he wouldn’t report “suspicious” to a system that doesn’t utilize due process. That is all. If masked thugs showed at his door, it very well could be different.

    I’d practice my second amendment rights, personally, while calling the police.

  63. I wouldn’t be afraid to call the cops if I suspect a robbery. Robbery reports tend to be handled in a sane manner.

    And I know what a robbery in progress looks like: People breaking into a house.

    With terrorism, it’s not clear what “suspicious behavior” really is, or what merits a call. So I see some Arab guy with 10,000 cell phones. Maybe he’s planting 10,000 IEDs. Far more likely he’s in the cell phone business.

    Still, you could say “Better safe than sorry.” OK, what if I see an Arab in a car outside a chemical plant? The overwhelming odds are that he’s picking somebody up from work or something like that. Should I call the cops?

    I just have no clue what a potential terrorist threat looks like, so why on earth would I call the cops and initiate a chain of events that isn’t governed by due process or sanity?

  64. John, do you need the police and the government to so insistently tell you that you need to call the police “if someone breaks into your house at night you won’t call the police or if someone is loitering around you and follows you home and stands outside your house you wouldn’t call the police” or “if [you] show up at [my] house tonight well armed and ambush [me] with the intent on murdering [me], raping [my] wife and stealing everything [I] own”.

    Oh, hell, yeah I would call the police. But should I call the police because a middle eastern man happens to be nervous of flying because I only see him as nervous.

    A friend of mine is an attendant with American Airlines. She and her husband (former air force pilot) are as hawkish as hawkish could be, and she told me about countless incidents that involved middle eastern men on flights whose nervousness caused others on the flight feel worried. They called the air marshals and canceled flights for, well, nothing. Some of these cases involved innocent men whose lives later changed because of these mishaps.

    Would you like to be in that position?

  65. And white if I see a Caucasian with a beard acting suspiciously. For all we know, he could be a convert with extremist views. Or he could be an observant orthodox Jew. Or he could be neither. He could be one of them crazy artists, or, God forbid even a hippie! Should I call the police just to be “on the safe side”?

  66. I also wonder, if John is indeed arguing on the side of righteousness, why he must resort to false analogies like “vaguely suspicious behavior = a blatantly criminal act such as burglary.” Hmm. Trying to undermine the Constitution like that strikes me as suspiciously un-American. Should I call the tipline?

  67. Is it really a good idea to put the number to an anti-fascist hotline on a libertarian blog?

  68. I just have no clue what a potential terrorist threat looks like, so why on earth would I call the cops and initiate a chain of events that isn’t governed by due process or sanity?

    25-35 year old male Arabs with multiple IDs from multiple countries trying to learn how to take off and fly a plane with no interest in learning how to land one.

  69. 25-35 year old male Arabs with multiple IDs from multiple countries trying to learn how to take off and fly a plane with no interest in learning how to land one.

    And this is the sort of activity you assume the average Joe on the street will see?

  70. And this is the sort of activity you assume the average Joe on the street will see?

    The average Joe flight instructor, yes.

    Should I call the police just to be “on the safe side”?

    Depends what he’s doing, obviously. If he’s taping an episode of Seinfeld on his Watchman, no. If he’s taping dynamite to ball bearings on his coat, yes.

  71. The average Joe flight instructor, yes.

    Who would never, ever think of reporting this behavior absent a national campaign urging everybody to run screaming to the cops whenever they see anything which spooks them?

  72. 25-35 year old male Arabs with multiple IDs from multiple countries trying to learn how to take off and fly a plane with no interest in learning how to land one.

    Or, say, taking building demolition courses, but showing no interest in safety precautions. Your average construction worker might notice that.

    Or, say, taking a hazardous chemical transport course and repeatedly asking questions like “How many people could I kill with chemical X?” The average trucker might notice that.

    I could go on.

    Unfortunately, a free society is built on the notion that people are not terrorists. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

  73. Who would never, ever think of reporting this behavior absent a national campaign urging everybody to run screaming to the cops whenever they see anything which spooks them?

    Oh, I’m sorry, were 3,000 people not killed on Sept 11, 2001? I must have read the news wrong. My bad.

    Yes, it helps if people need to know who to contact, that will actually do something that could prevent an atrocity.

  74. I mean, clearly the mechanisms in place on Sept 11 2001 were insufficient.

    Now, you shouldn’t run to the phone every five minutes shrieking “ZOMG I see brown people! Send a SWAT team!” But appropriate caution is called for.

  75. So TallDave, if you see a middle eastern man on a plane who happens to look (and “happens to look” is quite a subjective thing, to say the least) a bit nervous, what are you going to do?

    Plus, doh, someone does not know that when there is a suspicious activity you sort of have to cal 9-11?

    What irks some here is the fact that the police and the government have to remind us of this. It has an aura of wanting to spread unnecessary fear. The people are already vigilant. I would think, unless someone (the government?) thinks the people are hoards of unthinking sheep. So I would say that it is you, TallDave, and John and Shannon who are not only denigrating your fellow citizens as sheep and doubting the abilities they have, but are also quite scared like chickens yourselves.

  76. So TallDave, if you see a middle eastern man on a plane who happens to look (and “happens to look” is quite a subjective thing, to say the least) a bit nervous, what are you going to do?

    Offer a handshake and strike up a friendly conversation. I like to talk to Mideasterners; seems like they are always good storytellers. I work with several Pakis and a couple Turks, and they’re a lot of fun.

    but are also quite scared like chickens yourselves.

    Yes, I am scared of people who blow up buildings. It’s called survival instinct.

    Plus, doh, someone does not know that when there is a suspicious activity you sort of have to cal 9-11?

    911 is for immediate local response. Someone learning to fly planes, but not land them, is neither.

  77. TallDave-

    Scared or vigilant? I would say I am always vigilant. Especially on planes. For several reasons: (1) knowing that I am middle eastern (though it is harder to identify in my case) I act in ways that don’t scare the hell out of anyone, (2) I too keep an eye for suspicious behavior. But that is the thing, it is not like I need someone to remind me like I need to be vigilant. And (3), in case of something going wrong (either by real terrorists or by hyper-scared people of “suspicious” people), may language and cultural background may be helpful in diffusing any danger.

    BTW, I take back the “scared like chicken” description. Sorry.

  78. Oh, I’m sorry, were 3,000 people not killed on Sept 11, 2001? I must have read the news wrong. My bad.

    Considering the comprehension skills you display whenever Teh Scary Terrorists are mentioned, that wouldn’t be a surprise. But I’m more interested in knowing your theory of how 9/11 would’ve been prevented if ordinary men on the street had been indoctrinated to “report anything suspicious.”

    911 is for immediate local response. Someone learning to fly planes, but not land them, is neither.

    So tell flight instructors, chemical-plant managers and other such people to report their suspicions. We’re not talking about that here; we’re talking about telling the entire population to report anything they find suspicious. I understand that fear clouds the mind, but after all these years are you still to cloudy to tell the difference?

  79. Another thought: after 9/11, it turned out that the government did, in fact, receive ample warnings about the upcoming attack. However, they said, it wasn’t their fault they overlooked said warnings because they get so many false tips and reports that trying to sift through them all to find the true ones was “like looking for a needle in a haystack.” That actually sounds quite plausible. But I ask TallDave, John or Shannon: how do you supopse that adding more hay to the stack will make it easier to find the needle?

  80. The more hay you have in that stack, the more you have to cover your ass with.

  81. But I’m more interested in knowing your theory of how 9/11 would’ve been prevented if ordinary men on the street had been indoctrinated to “report anything suspicious.”

    Good Lord, do I really have to explain that???

    In fact, “ordinary men on the ground” did find the 9/11 hijacker’s behavior of not wanting to know how to land suspicious, but tragically that information did not make it to anyone who could do anything about it.

    You know whart might have helped with that? A national campaign with a number they could call to report things like that.

    it turned out that the government did, in fact, receive ample warnings about the upcoming attack

    What “ample warnings?” There was one FBI agent who was ignored.

  82. But I ask TallDave, John or Shannon: how do you supopse that adding more hay to the stack will make it easier to find the needle?

    That is just breathtakingly stupid. I applaud you.

    Yes, having more information would make it harder to find terrorists. You need to communicate this genius-level breakthrough in criminal science to the authorities, because the whole criminal justice system has been proceeding on the assumption that more information would be helpful in solving or preventing crimes. Why, there are thousands of people out there gathering information right now! We must stop them!

  83. So tell flight instructors, chemical-plant managers and other such people to report their suspicions. We’re not talking about that here; we’re talking about telling the entire population to report anything they find suspicious.

    Well, you may be shocked to learn this, but there are quite few situations in which an average person might see a terrorist plotting something. for instance, your average Joe might see somebody messing with a train on his way into work (Al Qaeda likes trains). You might see a terrorist walkthrough on a flight to New York to visit your sick aunt.

    Yes, the whole population might see something that could prevent a terrorist attack.

  84. What “ample warnings?” There was one FBI agent who was ignored.

    Well, if there were no “ample warnings,” and never was any memo saying “Bin Laden determined to attack in the US,” then that means the government lied to us. So I can rephrase the question: why do you think we’ll be safer reporting random suspicions to an untrustowrthy government willing to lie to cover its ass?

  85. And this is the sort of activity you assume the average Joe on the street will see?

    Nope just pointing out that Therou is full of shit.

    There are plenty of reasons why this government “rat on you dark skinned neighbor” is idiotic…therou’s point is not one of em. And his feigned ignorance as to what suspicious behavior is laugh worthy.

  86. Scared or vigilant? I would say I am always vigilant. Especially on planes.

    I usually try to fall asleep…or at the very least I try not to look down the hot chicks blouse sitting next to me.

  87. Yes, it helps if people need to know who to contact, that will actually do something that could prevent an atrocity.

    Ya I guess I should differentiate myself from Tall here.

    I know how to call The Sheriff and I am damn sure he will be far better equipped to discern if my suspicions are founded or simply bullshit then some asshole FED in Washington DC.

    And second, yes we live in a post 9/11 world. I don’t need an ad campaign to remind me of that.

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