The outrage perpetrated by MacArthur High School and the Irving, Texas police has been all over the news, and I don’t want to duplicate what everyone has been saying. Some points which haven’t gotten a lot of discussion jump out at me.
The first is that we know Ahmed Mohamed’s name at all. Normally when 14-year-olds are arrested, their names are kept strictly out of the news. Instead, the Irving police have been saying all kinds of things about their actions, and what they’re saying damns them. From a local news story:
Officers said Ahmed was being “passive aggressive” in his answers to their questions, and didn’t have a “reasonable answer” as to what he was doing with the case. Investigators said the student told them that it was just a clock that he was messing around with.
“We attempted to question the juvenile about what it was and he would simply only say it was a clock. He didn’t offer any explanation as to what it was for, why he created this device, why he brought it to school,” said James McLellan, Irving Police.
When you’re being questioned by the police, you say as little as possible. Anything you say can be used against you. Mohamed is only 14, but he’s clearly smart, and he avoided saying any unnecessary words. But McLellan thinks he can arrest people for not saying as much as he wants:
“When we attempted to question the student about what it was, what it was for, why he brought it to school, he only said it was a clock,” McLellan said. “Not knowing what he was going to do or why he had it, with the information they had, the arrest was appropriate.”
MacArthur High School principal Dan Cummings reportedly threatened to expel Mohamed for not making a written statement. So much for the Bill of Rights.
The school district has been just as bad. Lesley Weaver, speaking for the school district, said, “We were doing everything with an abundance of caution to protect all of our students in Irving.” “Abundance of caution” has become the standard term for outrageous governmental action. If they thought there was a bomb and were being cautious, the officials would have evacuated the school or removed the clock from the grounds immediately. They did neither. They did, however, deny him contact with his parents while questioning him.
When they found themselves being blasted nationwide, the school officials retreated into silence. They closed their Twitter account to public view. They suddenly decided they’re very concerned about Mohamed’s “right to privacy” while continuing to imply that his arrest was necessary for the safety of the students, that he had a “suspicious item” and was engaging in “suspicious behavior.”
They claimed the device “looked like” a bomb. I’m no explosives expert, but to me the one thing that can make something look like a bomb is a rigid, sealed container large enough to hold an explosive charge. Without something to contain a strongly exothermic reaction till it bursts, you don’t get an explosion. I’ve included the police picture of the clock. The case shown is presumably the pencil case Mohamed is said to have brought the clock to school in.
Perhaps to the “abundantly cautious” mind, a pencil case looks like a bomb, but how could anyone take the electronics inside for a bomb?? The WFAA report says that “officers said the clock and wires inside his Vaultz pencil case looked like a hoax bomb to them.” Yet, for all their “abundance of caution,” they did not call in a bomb squad, but brought the “bomb” right into the police station!
Ken White got it right in his comments on this issue: “American lives are controlled by the thuggishly mediocre.”
Update: Earlier I’d included a recommendation that people support a GoFundMe campaign in his support. I’ve since learned that GoFundMe is very selective in the causes it allows, so I’ve pulled the recommendation.