[story from Portland Cacophony Society mailing list member "Lance from France", as none of the online stories have any information anymore]
A man went to attend a Yoga class at Linn Benton Community College this morning, wearing a plain ordinary grey trenchcoat. It was not even black, like the ones in the movie THE MATRIX.
Yet, the sight of him caused a complete panic on the campus this morning. A student imagined that he was carrying something under the coat, perhaps a sawed off shotgun. The Linn County Sheriff's Emergency Response team rushed to the college, as well as city police officers from both Corvallis and Lebanon. The school was put in a complete lockdown.
Well, the police quickly tracked him down, and burst into the Yoga class with drawn pistols and assault rifles. It turns out the man was unarmed,
and had nothing on him. But he was immediately taken away under police escort for further questioning as to why he was wearing a trenchcoat on campus. There was video footage on TV from a news helicopter showing theofficers with him as he was being escorted. His car was also searched, but nothing was found in it either.
Although there is no indication at this time that any real threat everexisted, the college announced that it will stay in lockdown until 4:30pm today, effectively shutting the school down the entire day. Police are continuing to sweep the school as a precaution, and checking for nearby donut stands.
During the last night of the trip, staff members convinced the 69 students that there was a gunman on the loose. They were told to lie on the floor or hide underneath tables and stay quiet. A teacher, disguised in a hooded sweat shirt, even pulled on locked door.
After the lights went out, about 20 kids started to cry, 11-year-old Shay Naylor said.
"I was like, 'Oh My God,' " she said. "At first I thought I was going to die. We flipped out."
The first instance was a completely imagined threat blown way out of proportion by panicked school officials. The second was school officials LYING to clueless students about an imagined threat. Which one is getting all the press coverage? Which one is more outrageous?
Sure, the teachers in the second story used bad judgement and probably ought to be reprimanded somehow, but the poor guy in the first story did absolutely nothing wrong, yet was detained and questioned by the cops, and an entire school was shut down for the day. Over NOTHING
I have lots of outrage to share around, but most of it goes out towards the people behind story #1. These "better safe than sorry" reactions have got to stop.
Oh, and stop telling kids there are things to be scared of when you know perfectly well you just made them up.
At about 11am Pacific time on the 11th of September 2001, that all changed; the terrorists won.
See, a few hours earlier there was a catastrophic event that caused every last office worker in the country to tune their radios from the warm and friendly FM pop stations they were used to enjoying, to the cold and squealy AM stations that they knew only for their regular news updates. They were expecting regular news updates, and boy did they get them.
Every AM station had wall to wall speculation and conflicting news reports for at least a full day before gradually returning to the regular talk programming in a rather subtle way. The news reports moved further apart while the regular talk programs used the events of the day as the topic of every segment. Soon all these office workers -- who wouldn't be caught dead listening to talk radio -- suddenly found a place where it is not only acceptable to share their retarded opinion with the world, it was encouraged.
It's now been over four years since that day, and many of those office workers are now full time talk radio listeners and callers. You can't turn on an AM station without hearing some idiot on a cellphone arguing with another idiot with a large booming voice. Don't get me wrong, it was never idiot free -- it's just that now it is almost entirely idiots. I am referring especially to the loudmouthed Conservative talk shows, but the loudmouthed Liberal talk shows are just as bad.1 What especially annoys the crap out of me is all the people that say "Thanks for taking my call Bill," and "As I told your screener," and "I can hear you, can you hear me?" at the beginning of every fucking call. Time is money people, get the the point.
In any case, every few months I try to tune in to various talk stations, only to turn them off in frustration shortly afterwards. I have come to the following conclusion: like with all other mediums of broadcast entertainment, money is the driving force behind talk radio. Each idiot that calls in is just one more idiot that's going to keep listening through the advertisements to see if anyone calls in to disagree with them. I grow frustrated with endeavors that seem only to exist to make someone some money. Bill O'Reilly doesn't give a crap what you think, he's just paid to keep you listening.
Here's where the magic of podcasting comes in. Stay tuned for my next entry, which will point out several highly entertaining programs that you can listen to completely cost and advertisement free -- allowing you to enrich your mind while not enriching some fatcat's wallet.
1: with the exception of Al Franken, whose show I listened to the other day via his podcast. While I didn't agree with much of what he said, I have to say that his program featured more rational discussion from both sides of each issue than I have ever heard before on any similar program. No one yelled, no one got hung up on, and no one got called an idiot (whether they deserved it or not.)