Thursday, September 17, 2015

Ahmed, the Clockmaker....

... and the self-congratulating leftists

If you've spent even a few minutes being exposed to social media, you've no doubt heard the sorry tale of 14 year old Ahmed Mohamed, who was detained and reportedly suspended from his Irving, Texas school after a teacher thought that his "homemade" clock looked like a bomb.

Let me say from the start that this is clearly an extreme over-reaction on the part of the school and police. They KNEW it was not a bomb. If they were even remotely worried that it was an actual bomb, they would have evacuated the school and brought in a bomb squad.   And since he didn't do anything with it that could be even remotely called a hoax, the charge of "Hoax Bomb" also doesn't hold water.

The school called this "a suspicious-looking device." What, they've never looked inside any sort of appliance or electronics device???? Amazing ignorance on the part of the teachers, administration, and police.  Clearly, the school and police have much to atone for in this case.

Immediately upon seeing this story, I considered this yet another of these horrid, "zero-tolerance" overreactions, much like a young boy being suspended for throwing an imaginary grenade into an imaginary box containing imaginary monsters, or the young school girl who was suspended for talking about her Hello Kitty bubble blowing gun, or the young boy suspended for chewing his pop tart into a shape that looked like a gun, or...  well, you've heard all too many of these stories.

Suddenly, however, all sorts of notable famous people (in politics as well as the tech industry) -- from President Obama and Hillary Clinton to senior people at Twitter, Facebook, Google, etc. lauding him in as if he were the second coming of Steve Jobs and inviting him for visits to the White House or internships at Twitter.

You'd think this kid created a life-changing invention that would save humanity.  No, he constructed a clock.  And he didn't build it from scratch, or even from a kit... he simply took the guts (display, circuit boards, transformer) out of a commercial product and put it in his own case. OK, not bad, but there are 14 year old kids (and younger) building more complex things than this from scratch -- designing and building their own circuit boards, programming their own processors, etc.

Yes, this kid should be encouraged to continue his pursuits. Maybe he will find the skills and creativity needed to be a good engineer, someday. But this project is nothing exceptional to be creating the interest that it has.

When wondering to my friends about this, some said that maybe the project wasn't so great, but it's still heartening to see the country stand up for this kid.

You know what?  I'll be heartened when I see the country stand up for ALL kids who have been mistreated by ridiculous school policies and overreactions. At this point, however, I am deeply suspicious of those people (and their motivations) who are falling over themselves to heap such praise and support on this kid.

So what is driving this?  Could it have to do with the fact that young Mr. Mohamed is Muslim and the extreme reaction by the school might be considered (by some, at least) as a case of bigotry?

Like those who vote for less-than-talented talent show contestants with obvious disabilities or sad back-stories, or those who pick a marginally popular transgender person as their homecoming queen, much of this outpouring of support is self-congratulatory fluff so people can very publicly demonstrate just how open-minded they are.  Why else would leaders of various tech industries fall over themselves to acknowledge such a mediocre project?

If I haven't earned enough scorn for this assessment, let me try harder...

Being a cynical SOB, I also see a possibility that the entire event was "engineered" to create such a stir and gain notoriety. Consider the following:

Mr. Mohamed showed the project to a teacher in 1st period. Later in the day, a different teacher heard something beep in his bag. At the end of class, Mr. Mohamed showed her the clock -- which precipitated the events that followed. I don't see anything in the picture of the clock released by the Dallas PD that would enable it to make any sound if not plugged in. The photo shows no battery (one would assume that the picture would show the clock as it was confiscated).

So, what made noise that drew the teacher's attention? As I said, the cynical part of me tells me that he had something else to draw attention to the clock, trying to get the reaction he got. (And make no mistake, I think the reaction WAS wrong and SHOULD be brought to light).

I've seen too many of these stories that began with an immediate rallying of the public in support of some "victim," but ended up being a deception.

I immediately had doubts back in 1994 as Susan Smith got nationwide attention for claiming that a black man carjacked her and kidnapped her kids, leading to a huge demonstration of public support to her, as well as a massive man hunt (it was later found that she drove her car into a lake to kill them).

I was equally dubious when I saw Richard and Mayumi Heene's claim that their little boy had accidentally launched himself in a "flying saucer" balloon, causing a huge in-air pursuit of the balloon and massive TV coverage (it was later found that they deliberately perpetrated the hoax to promote a TV show they were pitching).

Sometimes my cynicism is proven to be unfounded; too often, unfortunately, it is not. Time will tell.

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