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Friday, November 18, 2011

Paranoia?, Security?, and East Carolina University on Lockdown -- Silence DoGood

Flash, East Carolina University on lock-down because a man was spotted with an… umbrella.” That’s right, an umbrella. I don’t know if it was a single shot, semi-automatic, or belt fed umbrella, but apparently there was an expectation of rain yesterday in that part of North Carolina and the man who possessed said umbrella had it at sling arms as a means of preventing raindrops from interrupting the flow of his day as he went about his business.

Am I being remotely sarcastic? Remotely, yes. How anyone that has any knowledge of firearms could mistake an umbrella for an assault rifle is beyond me. And yes, the presumption there is the fact that someone has knowledge of weapons that made those calls. Of course, perusing the websites from that part of the State, one learns that several calls were made, the lock-down proceeded, and then all the kids in the lockdown with their cell phones began to throw gallons of gas on the fire with false reports, rumor, and innuendo. Reports of hostages being taken, an armed person in a building, were all flying because of social media access and became incredible wastes of time and resources.

Besides my umbrage with the umbrella being a weapon of mass death and destruction, my other issue is that of the necessity and use of social media during this or any other crisis. Texting, blogging, twittering, and anything else not relevant and not relaying exactly what is happening, with who, what, when, where, why, and how should be curtailed, halted, or have the binders put on it. In this instance rumor ran rampant fueled by and because of this cyber discussion. The situation thus, from the reports on file, quickly devolved into chaos and only served to as fodder to the hysteria and panic of the moment. These ne’er do well folks added their 2.5 cents worth of absolutely nothing but fear, paranoia, angst, and any other adjective you can think of for mindless behavior, to this scenario. It divided the response, it diverted resources from the initial objective and it was based in no fact whatsoever, was added to, then bent and twisted into nothing resembling what was actually transpiring.

Think about this if you please. You arm your children with cell phones for God only knows what reason and these little electronic distractions are erstwhile tolerated in the classroom for the same reason they’re supplied. However, if you receive a message from Chipper that the school is in lockdown or there is an armed person on campus in the monumental odds of such an event actually ever transpiring, do you think you’re going to be allowed into the school or even get close during a lockdown? Guess again. You will not be allowed anywhere close and if you insist, you will be detained or arrested. So you’re being part of the problem, citizen individual. And, by your knowing what is going on, how does that change things? Now that you’re in the know, does that somehow make it better? What can you do? We’ve already determined that you’re not getting into that perimeter, how is your knowing in real time beneficial? It’s not about you or your child, per se. It’s about all of the children and the people in that school. While you direct attention is for that one or two, the folks responding in have to take the entire population of that building or gathering into consideration. Every one understands you love your child and I think it unreasonable to expect anything to the contrary. You and every other parent of every other child that attends that institution. In those situations, stay out of the area, stay out of the way, and let those tasked with their safety and security do their job. It’s not about you get over yourself.

I do not want to see anyone harmed or injured as a result of inaction or ambivalence on the part of the police or any school official. Some that read this will argue that it is better to be safe than sorry in situations such as these. They will say that when you have reports such as the one with the assault umbrella, it is best to err on the side of caution. Absolutely, but to stage a panic? And in essence, that is exactly what transpired, panic. Just like walking into a crowded theatre and shouting, “FIRE.” There are two different modes of response in this quandary. The first is an investigatory response to a reported sighting of a person with a presumed weapon and the second is response to an active shooter. One involves a measured and controlled response and the other taking everything you have and piling it on fast.

I think this speaks as well to a decade of fear mongering and feeling safe and secure about terrorists, extremists, militiamen, fanatics, and your general all around whack-a-loons. We are captive in our own home, city, county, state, and nation. Freedom? Really? When you can shut down an entire college campus with an umbrella, what does that tell you about group think paranoia? We have become a nation of sheeple that have lost their zest to live and choose instead to exist. A nation who can’t seem to do anything for themselves, who depend or demand that everything be done for them, and cower in the shadow of an image of a man wielding an umbrella.

You cannot live in a country such as ours with the liberties and freedoms we enjoy and be completely safe. There is always a risk. There will always be a risk or there will not be any freedom or liberty. You don’t get served security and freedom on the same absolute plate. You get to have a choice. Now, you can reduce your risks, you can lessen the chances of such a travesty happening, but you can’t remove it. Otherwise you can talk about it, install cameras to see it, and station police in every school in every community in this nation. Does that render them or you safe? No, that gives you the illusion of safety, the feeling of being safe, doesn’t make it so. Next you’ll be talking about Big Brother and how oppressive they are and spying, checking, watching, looking, and tracking you. I’m sorry, scratch that last sentence in part. By the time we reach that phase, you won’t be allowed to discuss the Government or things going on… ever. You read and hear every now and again how the Federal agencies or intelligence services are winning the war on terror. They’ll break a plot or stop someone and come and tell us about it. This is called validating what they do and what you and I pay for. And for every one they stop, how many more do you think get through or continue on with their plans? Rest assured, our turn is coming around again. So, put down the phone, pay attention to your surroundings, and don’t make things worse by continually screaming “FIRE” or “ME, MY, or MINE” every time you see an umbrella.


harryhipps said...

Three things came together in this episode: 1)Inattention to detail, 2)ignorance of guns, and 3) the technology (ie cell phone) to report something instantly. Unfortunately, law enforcement has to act decisively when a report of this nature comes in. To not act would be roundly condemned and open up liabilities if the report had been true. This puts the responsibility to not create a panic on the observer who may be paranoid, malicious, inattentive, or just plain ignorant. These are, sad to say, too common in the general public.
I guess I have to fall into the "better safe than sorry" camp but, geez folks, can't we think first, act secondly?

Anonymous said...

Not to act would certainly be a death sentence both in terms of lives and careers. The sad fact is, when someone gets it wrong, people can get hurt or killed. What if the guy with the umbrella had been confronted or shot as a result? The headline then would have been, "Police Overeact to Man with Umbrella by Shooting Him." And since in the Sir Robert Peel frame of reference, "the people are the police and the police are the people," there are quite a few police officers out there that don't have the ability to differentiate the two items in question either.

I'm not saying that these reports should be taken lightly or ignored. But problems can also arise from this, 'person with gun... CHARGE' response to every call of this nature. Next thing you know, there will be anonymous calls of weapons during finals week, because the police are going to lock down the campus. Either way, lives dangle in the balance. Fortunately this ended well with no one getting hurt. I can't attest to the next time.

As was stated in the original piece, the police go investigate first, unless it's an active shooter. It's calm, rational, logical. And like you said Harry, it's thinking first and acting second.