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How Absurd: 8 Crazy Reactions, Ridiculous Conclusions, and Dumb Media Behavior Coming out of the Boston Bombings

Not a shining moment.

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5. More Government Surveillance Is Called for. When the going gets cynical, the cynics turn pro—or lobby Congress to expand the surveillance state. As Salon.com reported, “Stewart Baker, a senior Department of Homeland Security official in the administration of George W. Bush, argues that the Boston Marathon bombings prove that surveillance cameras are awesome and Congress should pass CISPA — the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act.” Wonderful.

6. The Internet and social media take over. Maybe the expectation of privacy is so 20th century, as is the legal doctine of innocent until proven guilty. One very creepy aspect of the manhunt was how people on social media platform became amateur detectives and started posting inaccurate information about innocent people—just like the New York Post’s frontpage. As Salon reported:

“Remember how thousands of Reddit users and 4chan people spent the days after the bombing combing through every available photo and frame of video of the site of the bombings, searching for the perpetrators, and they found a bunch of guys with backpacks — so many guys they made a spreadsheet! — and (inadvertently) allowed the New York Post to identify, on the front page, two innocent people as the bombers?”  

Andperhaps epitomized by the faulty reporting by John King on CNN, theTV news reporters  went way too fast.  

7.   All the crazies come out and get far too much attention. Of course, the right wing echo chamber bellowed. Michael Savage spread ludicrous and wildly dangerous conspiracy theories about Muslims in America. Alex Jones claimed the suspects revealed in FBI photos looked "Israeli." Glenn Beck wouldn't let go of his own pet conspiracy theory about a Saudi Arabian.

8. Allegations of hate acts against apparent Muslims. All this misinformation and police overreach has dismaying consequences, including encouraging vigilante actions that are hate crimes plain and simple. As Amanda Terkel explained for the Huffington Post

[T]hen there was news that a man in Bronx, N.Y., who was born in Bangladesh was beaten up for supposedly being " a f*cking Arab" by a group of men who wanted retribution for the marathon bombing.

A Palestinian woman near Boston also reported being the victim of a hateful assault on Wednesday, when a man hit her and yelled, "F*ck you Muslims! You are terrorists! I hate you!  You are involved in the Boston explosions."

 

 

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America's retirement crisis, the low-wage economy, democracy and voting rights, and campaigns and elections. He is the author of "Count My Vote: A Citizen's Guide to Voting" (AlterNet Books, 2008).

 
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