The small town of Ravenna, Ohio was rocked on Saturday by five teenage girls who hung boxes designed like the question blocks from Super Mario Brothers as an April Fool's Day prank. The matter caused a ruckus in the town, leading to a mass-scale freakout that involved the local hazardous materials unit and bomb squad. The county of Portage, Ohio now contemplates criminal charges against the girls, who are between age 16 and 17.
Pranks getting out of control are nothing new, but this strikes me as a classic example of "homeland security" going overboard: The girls admitted that they had pulled the prank, and were inspired by a website dedicated to the idea of creating public Super Mario Bros. interventions
Unfortunately, homeland security getting out of control is becoming less and less "new," and over-reactions like this illustrate the idiocy of the terrorized mindstate.
Ravenna Police Chief Randall McCoy is quoted in an article from local newspaper, The Record-Courier
"The potential is always present when dealing with a suspicious package that it could be deadly," McCoy said. "In today's day and age, you just cannot do this kind of stuff."
No, Officer McCoy, in today's day and age one cannot afford to be so out of touch with the culture that one does not recognize the difference between a playful act and a terroristic act. The embarrasment and humiliation that the Ravenna Police Department, and the county of Portage, Ohio in general, will experience thanks to this incident should serve to illustrate the importance of working to be informed, intelligent, and measured when engaging in the day-to-day critical thinking and interpretation required to survive in "today's fast-paced world." Knee-jerk reactions and dogmatic adherence to protocol are the main ingredients in a recipe for totalitarian control.
These events make us want to go toss up some SMB cubes around Buffalo, and we encourage others to take up playful interventions if only to wake up the world around them. As far as I am concerned, these five girls accomplished their goal admirably: Ravenna, Ohio will not forget this April First for years to come.
(Thanks to Joystiq
for getting this story out.)