Insult the president, but don’t threaten him

If you don’t like George W. Bush, feel free to call him an idiot or even an a–hole. You can also createBushmonkey
pictures to make him look like Hitler, the devil or a monkey. Freedom of speech allows you to do all that. But whatever you do, don’t threaten to kill him. Federal agents will be on you faster than George Foreman on a cheeseburger.

December 10, 2007 — A boneheaded prank backfired on a pair of
teenage cyberspace cadets who sent President Bush a death threat from a
classmate’s computer at an Upper West Side high school.


Federal agents quickly traced the message back to the freshmen duo,
both 14, and the pair wound up getting hauled off in handcuffs.

The unidentified techno-twits were given the scare of a lifetime, along
with a suspension, after the incident last week. They were later freed
without being charged. [Link]

They got off rather easy. When I was 14, a prank like that meant that I would be sent home with a message from the principal, written in stripes across my butt. (I took messages home several times during my high school days in Zambia.)

The dimwitted duo hatched their plan in
a morning computer class Wednesday at the Urban Assembly Media HS near
Lincoln Center, said a student at the school who asked to remain
anonymous.

They performed their mischief when an unsuspecting
classmate left his computer station to use the bathroom, and they
darted over to his machine and punched up the Department of Homeland
Security’s Web site.

Then they sent a prank e- mail from the classmate’s computer threatening to kill the president, said the student source.

Little did they know that Homeland Security’s investigative engine had already kicked into overdrive.


Within three hours, plainclothes agents stormed the school, tracking
the menacing missive to the computer lab. An hour later, they arrived
at the computer in question and quickly netted the perpetrators. [Link]

That should make everyone rest a little easier, knowing that the Department of Homeland Security is taking seriously the threat posed to America by high school kids. Today, they might send a threatening email; tomorrow, they might take flying lessons. You never know.

Most of the school’s 400 students were immediately stripped of their
Internet privileges, and remain without them, angering many. [Link]

This is the first time many of them have been opposed to Internet stripping.   

The stupid stunt comes eight months after Secret Service agents swooped
down on Irving Miqui, a student at the Bayard Rustin Educational
Complex in Manhattan, for telling a school magazine he wanted to shoot
Bush to become "a national hero."[Link]

Miqui was wrong, of course. Shooting the president will not make you a "national hero" — it will make you an "international hero."

I’m kidding, Mr. Secret Service Agent. I really am. Please don’t come after me. I’m opposed to any type of violence. It’s not good to hurt people. That’s what I tell everyone. Just ask my high school principal.

Photo by smellyknee

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If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

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