Let’s Dial It Back On the Clock Bomb Outrage

He's wearing a goddamned NASA shirt, man. On purpose. Islamic terrorists don't do that shit.

He’s wearing a goddamned NASA shirt, man. On purpose. Islamic terrorists don’t do that shit.

The above 14 year-old genius kid named Ahmed Mohammed – the one with just the perfect expression of bewilderment as to how his science project landed him in handcuffs – you know him by now. You have been made aware. He brought his homemade clock to his Irving, Texas high school to show off to his engineering teacher. He was then promptly arrested, because the school wasn’t taking any chances that the Muslim kid didn’t bring a bomb to school. I mean, look at that punam: it practically squeals academic virgin until 26, not exactly your jihadi Tinder profile’s perfect match. He wouldn’t know what to do with a bunch of virgins if he blew up and reconstituted inside of all of their cervices at the same time.

Personally, I jumped directly on the liberal persecution boner train with the rest of the civilized world, didn’t you? What, so the wunderkind is Muslim and you brand him a terrorist? That’s super fucked up, man. It took the cops and DA far too long to decide to decide not to press charges against a science fair project. Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne — a very enthusiastic bigot who delivers flailing sermons at churches about how Muslims are “infiltrating” her suburban Texas community — has fostered the kind of batshit narcissistic  atmosphere that would imagine their inconsequential town would be worthy of the attention of a dedicated terror cell, so she’s definitely getting a heaping helping of blame. This quote pretty much defines the entire gumshoe operation:

broader explanation

I’m sure you made it perfectly clear what sort of explanation you expected the kid to give you for a fucking digital alarm clock, Officer Baffles O’Monkeyscratch. “Is this a collection of mold samples and a trifold project board, or a clever bio-agent distribution mechanism?” So, this was handled just super poorly, and the internet shame machine made sure everyone knew it.

But there are a good three mitigating factors I could pull directly out of my ass, right now, that I think show we’re being a little harsh on the school’s initial reaction. They really don’t have anything to do with race or religion, and I think they’re relevant. Before we start, this is to beg a modicum of understanding for educational professionals that have arguably the roughest jobs right now in America. Bear with me, and tell me these points aren’t reasonable:

First of all, have you seen this clock?

clock 1

The Wile E Coyote, various suspicious wires in a briefcase clock? I don’t care what color you are, or what God commands you, this shit immediately calls to mind sweaty FBI television procedural scenes with color-blind agents advised remotely as to which wire to cut. Bruce Willis got PTSD shivers the first time he saw this thing. If Batman were the high school principal in this scenario, he’d be able to tell on sight this thing was on the level. Instead, we have normal people involved, and you get this scenario:

“Why the fuck is that briefcase – the one with the suspicious variety of wires – counting down?”

“Just counting the seconds ’til recess, bro.”

Well, if you had been there, we could have used your bomb expertise at the scene. Couple hundred lives at stake, but yeah, obviously.

Well, if you had been there, we could have used your expertise at the scene, Monday Morning Bomb Sniffing Dog. Were you able to tell that by looking, or do you have a reference card for how explosives are supposed to work? The cops might – MIGHT – have known, but teachers? Do high school principals come in contact with advanced explosives on a regular basis? Couple hundred lives at stake, but yeah, let’s hang our childrens’ lives on “obviously.”

Secondly, consider that these schools have some pretty understandable procedures. Working at a school in the US right now must be fucking terrifying, because we are a nation of psychopaths in which ‘mass murder’ is a headline on a bi-monthly basis. What, really, is worse: Coming off as a little racist, or being the person on the watchtower when a couple dozen children were murdered? If I’m outlining the proper procedures for my school district, I’m erring on the side of keeping kids alive. And again, it isn’t because the kid is brown, or a muslim, but because he’s carrying around a cartoonish replica of the bus bomb in Speed. He could have brought in a pixelated 8-bit blue spheroid, and I’d still do a double take, because schools aren’t safe in America.

"Do they even make bombs like that anymore?" "How the fuck should I know, I'm the PE teacher at a podunk shithole school."

“Do they even make bombs like that anymore?”
“How the fuck should I know? I’m the PE teacher at a podunk shithole school.”

Do you call the cops? Only if you’re not an expert in determining what a real bomb is. Seems excessive that the cops then led the poor bastard out in handcuffs like he was a suspect of literally anything, but that’s on the pigs. As is the failure of the investigation from there, and the absurdist mockery of rationality therein. The school staff, though? Even if there was some regrettable racism involved – – the kid brought a bunch of wires attached to a digital time display! Just to reiterate, the title of this article encourages us all to dial it back, not forget the outrage altogether.

I have an anecdote for perspective. This happens when I was in high school, probably a junior just about a year before 9/11, Columbine and trench coats still fresh in everyone’s mind. A friend of mine met us at our usual congregation spot, just like every other day. And, like every other day, this friend of mine was just so hilariously, translucently white. Obviously, it matters, because this whole controversy is about color and culture. So, this friend of mine white-walks in with a paper bag, labelled in bold Sharpie: “DONUTS.” “Hey, what’s in the bag?” we joked lamely. And lamely, he retorted, “Hur hur, a bomb.” Immediately, the school cop panthers out of frigging nowhere and tackles the poor sunofabitch, spilling white powdered breakfast pastries across the mascot emblazoned in the school’s foyer. More, real police were brought in, and our crew — so white even our black and hispanic members were, for all intents and purposes, white — spent the next week in and out of the vice principal’s office, hoping they didn’t detect the very real dime bags in our pockets, trying to convince her this was just another normal kid.

I’m not telling you this to convince you that Ahmed Mohammed’s story doesn’t have a racial element – I wouldn’t swallow that either – but to illustrate that schools have procedures. At no point will a high school principal shrug at a suspicion and say, “Meh, it’s probably fine.” Not when the suspicion is not without precedent, right? I mean, one day you’ll find yourself responsible for a couple hundred Whitney Houston’s futures, and I hope the potential life-and-death decision you have to make is as easy as everyone is making it sound.



Third, and incredibly cynically, we should have been so lucky in high school as to be the media highlight of a bigotry offense. Have you been following the swag ass invitations this kid has got in the past few days? Little man’s going to visit the White House, Google, NASA, Facebook, and MIT, is probably writing his own ticket as we speak, will be making well-deserved paid appearances very soon. All for mastering the workings of a frigging snooze button. I’m not saying it isn’t impressive, most of our students are dumb as rocks, we need more like Ahmed. But, I mean, he’s calling it an invention. “Now the 14-year-old says he’ll no longer bring any of his inventions into school.” (The Verge) His dad probably wasn’t born when that technology was invented. It’s a science fair project, and a very good and important one, but let’s cool it a little. By no means am I suggesting Ahmed doesn’t deserve the things he’s getting, especially considering reparations are in order, but he’s got them now.

white house

“Like and share” is an example of what marketing professionals identify as a “call to action,” a short imperative statement designed to get you to want to do something so that they will make money. Likes & Shares (trademark) = money for someone. So, you know, call ME cynical.

As far as reparations for a shitty incident in Assmunch, Texas, it doesn’t really get more badass than that. I’m excited for him. Now, let’s put the pitchforks away and talk about why the mayor of this town is giving anti-Islam speeches in churches and how we can stop that shit from happening.