Friday, September 18, 2015

The right somehow got even dumber about Ahmed's clock

Earlier today I took up the excruciating chore of explaining that bombs have explosives and clocks do not, which is how we can always tell a clock from a bomb. This is not something that any adult in the universe actually needs anyone to explain, but I thought it was worth hammering home just how ridiculous a pretext this is for harassing and defaming a child. Obviously they're going to find an excuse to do it, but the sheer radical idiocy of the excuse they've settled on is a testament to just how odious these Islamophobes really are.

I'm returning to this simply because it appears that they've come across another line:

Contrary to what you may have thought, it turns out that Ahmed did not actually manufacture the clock's circuit board - he neither fabricated the multilayer substrate nor printed out the conductive tracks. Some guy named Anthony is on the case:
Take a look at the board in Ahmed’s clock. It almost looks hand-drawn, right? That’s because it probably was...This is how simple, low cost items (like an alarm clock) were designed....There’s also silk screening on the board. An “M” logo, “C-94” (probably, a part number – C might even stand for “clock”), and what looks like an American flag...a hobbyist wouldn’t silk screen logos and part numbers on their home made creation. It’s pretty safe to say already we’re looking at ’70s tech, mass produced in a factory.
It goes on and on like this - but even as he proves his masterful recognition of mass produced consumer electronics, Anthony voices some bizarre assumptions about children. "Today...a beginner is going to get some computer aided assistance," he writes, "learning by simulating designs before building them." This is probably true for plenty of computer nerds and privileged kids taking formal classes, but when you're a 14-year-old tinkerer it's just as likely that you're learning about electronics by taking stuff apart and putting it back together.

And that second step, it turns out, is pretty hard! When you're a child faced with a deconstructed pile of functionally inexplicable wires and gadgets, and you somehow manage to figure out what everything does and how it all fits together and you actually manage to competently solder and screw it all back together, yes, you have obviously built something. In fact, they sell kits for just this purpose.

So much for the empty, petty semantics of pathetic adults flailing around for ways to embarrass a child.

By the way, Anthony has a moral to his story

Yes, that's what's going on here. Anthony writes his piece in the magnanimously disinterested tones of an electronics enthusiast, but even so, he can't resist selling it as a moral lesson about "our reaction as a society to the situation". "Part of that," he explains, "is the knee-jerk responses we're all so quick to make without facts...I don't feel a need to take the first exist [sic] to conclusionville. But I do like to find facts where I can, and prefer to let them lead me to conclusions, rather than a knee jerk judgment...we jump to conclusions...we don't care about the actual facts."

Reading this sober, rational call for suspending our judgment, one might conclude that Anthony thinks the teachers were too hasty in concluding that a disassembled clock was a bomb. Nope! The real crime here is that we were too hasty in scolding them for this. "Maybe there wasn't even any racial or religious bias on the parts of the teacher and the police," he writes. Who's to say?

TL;DR - If a child says he "built" something when he really reassembled something, this is evidence of a sinister hoax. But if a grown adult says something is a "bomb" when it's quite obviously a disassembled clock in a pencil box with nothing resembling an explosive whatsoever, this is evidence of nothing and it would be outrageous and illogical for us to conclude otherwise.