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let's play "what if"

let's play "what if"

Let's consider the possibilities should this Florida thing turn out to be nothing:

Waitress gets a bad tip (or no tip at all). She's pissed. The men who left her the shitty tip are of Middle Eastern descent. How best to get even?

I'm just saying.....

*update* So by now you all know that the three guys were playing a "joke" on the woman who looked at them suspiciously. Stupid? You betcha. But I do bet that they were mighty tired of being looked at as potential terrorists all the time, though I'm sure that as scholarly men they could have come up with a better way to get their point across.

And my revenge motive was right - just in reverse.

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I'm waiting for a story to break on how the men were talking about something completely unrelated to terrorism (like raising rabbits or something), and that the woman just completely misconstrued their words.

The woman who reported them wasn't a waitress, but another customer at the table next to the men. She overheard them saying 'Do we have enough to bring it down' and then one of the other men saying he had contacts if they didn't. The dogs detected explosive material, either in the car or it had been in recently. The men aren't co-operating, and have evidently lied about their nationality.

... and they said something to the effect that if America mourded September 11, wait until September 13.

No, what we all know is coming is some LAWSUIT by these guys claiming their civil rights were violated. I read somewhere they are medical students, which I find really depressing (being a doctor myself); on the news this morning I heard they were found because one of the cars ran a toll booth. It seems to me that if this is true, in combination with the alleged conversation, at BEST they are 3 of the DUMBEST future physicians the world has ever seen!!

Or as Todd and I both concluded separately, this is a really good decoy -- they were purposely dumb and have us all (law enforcement included) distracted for the time being. But Mike is correct -- it was a customer in a Shoney's and not a waitress. And Jane is correct -- they blew through the toll booth without paying.

I was just playing devil's advocate. There are a thousand possibilities here. Let's hope the truth ends up to be nothing scary at all.

In these circumstances, and due to the way they were brought in, ie. doing something illegal, I'm not too worried. Yet I can see exactly the sort of scenario Michele described happening as well. Where perfectly harmless people discussing something have it taken out of context, or where a person decides to lie to get revenge. Of course, we have these issues already--people are always misconstruing or taking petty revenges--but sometimes lately it seems almost McCarthyistic in nature.

BTW, I can think of at least three instances in my personal life where if you didn't have the context or know that people were joking, stuff would look suspicious to an outsider. I'd hate to have my rights or the rights of family and friends violated just on somebody's word, especially when there was no cause for it. For example, what if somebody overheard my cousin, who is a SF writer, talking about the novel that he's writing, and maybe he goes into a little bit of dialogue or discusses the techniques that the characters use to terrorize people, and supposing somebody actually thought that HE had some kind of information he didn't really have and sicced the police on him.

Just another random what-if to ponder....

You're right Michele. It was a joke. I just read on CNN that the woman was looking at them funny because they were Mid-Eastern looking so they decided to f- with her. Stupid bastards.

That's not what was said on Fox News (where she was just interviewed live), Rob. In fact, the police have confirmed to the press that the license plates on one of the cars doesn't match the registration. So...even if they are innocent...they still broke the law by blowing through the toll booth and hiding the true registration of the vehicle.

Count on it, Robyn. Considering there are more stupid people in the world than there are terrorists, I'd bet on these guys just being stupid.

BTW, I REALLY loved CNN's little interactive popup about what is suspicious. They asked ordinary people and one of them said: Let's say, if you are at a park and everybody is out barbecuing having a really good time and kids are playing around, but then you see somebody on the side, and then they just don't look too correct. That should be a little suspicious to you.

Oh, that's SWELL! Let's start picking on people who just don't look "too correct".

Horray for paranoia. In some very few cases, I'm sure tips will turn out to be legitimate, but in the meantime, it seems like it's more counterproductive. Besides possibly infringing on personal rights, and causing the whole country to lose their sense of humour, we are also causing a lot of people unintentional worry.

This is not to say that we shouldn't pay attention to truly anomalous behaviour, but a lot of people don't have an appropriate yardstick for that sort of thing. Looking a little different or remarks out of context aren't justification for intervention. Something illegal like blowing through a toll booth, that's a little different, of course.

it's so freakin easy to pick out the suspicious people. like duh, it's always the people who aren't white.

(for those who don't me, that was a joke...)

These guys weren't persecuted for no reason--they apparently DELIBERATELY let a customer hear verbiage suggesting a terrorist plot. They also broke what sounds like at least 2 laws so I'm glad they've been charged--we all have to obey the same laws. I guess we're all pretty jumpy these days and maybe after some years we'll be less suspicious or paranoid, but I think they've gotten what they deserved. I feel sorry for their future patients--they obviously have incredibly poor judgment--and for other fine physicians who are of Middle-Eastern descent who may be unfairly judged because of these nutcases.

Should the joke theory prove true, I hope it deters people from playing the jokes and not people from reporting suspicious behaviour. While I think reporting someone who looks weird at the park ( could be a harmless flasher after all) is over the top, I don't want people to be afraid to report a conversation like that woman heard. Or a suspicious package left at an airport terminal. She probably feels kind of stupid right now, but she did the right thing. Ask the government what kind of things they blew off before 9-11 that they wouldn't now. I would bet there is a pretty healthy list. I just wish for her sake they kept her name out of the news.

waitaminit here... what exactly was the "suspicious behavior" that prompted the old woman to listen in to their conversation in the first place? the way i'm reading the story, they noticed that she was being nosy, and so they made up the story they did. it's not like they went into the diner with that plan in mind...

That's what I'm saying, Mikey. Their "suspicious behavior" was probably just being Middle Eastern. However, their reaction was beyond idiotic, if what the newscasters are saying is true.

I'm not saying that the three guys didn't act idiotically--but I'd say MOST of their idiocy comes from their actions when confronted later, and their trying to blow through a tollbooth later that day. Their behaviour in the restaurant, while not grade A genius, is certainly understandable. (Not to mention, the two statements they have about not having enough of something to bring it down could be taken out of context. I've said, referring to money or to other things, that I don't have enough to bring off a project--and that seems to be the two statements the women commented on most. That they didn't have enough of something to bring down something. What the somethings are haven't been clarified on the news.) Also we don't know the tone of voice that they said things, if they were being what they thought was sufficiently sarcastic. The part of the story I have issues with is not their behaviour later, or how the authorities dealt with that--THAT was stupid--once they were confronted, they should have acted responsibly and maturely, if they were truly just playing a prank on somebody. However, I do have issues with the woman listening in on their conversation because she felt that they were kinda scary, and that her qualification that they were scary might be considered enough of a legitimate basis for some people to investigate--THAT'S what I have issues with.

However as pointed out before, they DID blow through a toll booth, and there seems to be extenuating circumstances--yet, late in the day, it all seems to be a prank gone awry. And while we can say that it was stupid or insensitive of them to joke about such things, how would we feel if we'd been explain something Holy Fucking Shit Day to a friend, and had somebody listen in, decide that we were inappropriate somehow, and decided to rat on us. What if Michele's run in at a supermarket with the annoying bitch from suburbia had culminated in Annoying Bitch deciding that Michele was anti-social and suspicious and reported her? What if our society gets so freaking paranoid that we can't turn around with out having somebody judge and report our actions? (Whoops--too late on that. weak grin)

BTW, whenever I see pictures of Mrs. Eunice Stone (the informant in today's episode of Terror In Your Very Own Backyard) I keep wanting to quote Barbra Streisand from What's Up Doc: "Eunice?! That's a person named Eunice." :)

I can understand their frustration, but you don't yell bomb on a plane, fire in a theater, because other people's racism offends you. If they made such a joke, they could expect this to happen. We can't let these things go right now. Sorry.

OK, and if the woman in Georgia made the whole thing up, she should be prosecuted and I'm sure they'll sue her. I'm just annoyed by how shrill the family was. Excuse me, we do need to investigate these things!