Monday, February 02, 2009

Ignorance should be painful, too...

...just like stupidity should be:

Doug Bates and his wife, Stacey, were in bed around 10 p.m., their 2-year-old daughters asleep in a nearby room. Suddenly they were shaken awake by the wail of police sirens and the rumble of a helicopter above their suburban Southern California home. A criminal must be on the loose, they thought.
Doug Bates got up to lock the doors and grabbed a knife. A beam from a flashlight hit him. He peeked into the backyard. A swarm of police, assault rifles drawn, ordered him out of the house. Bates emerged, frightened and with the knife in his hand, as his wife frantically dialed 911. They were handcuffed and ordered to the ground while officers stormed the house.
The scene of mayhem and carnage the officers expected was nowhere to be found. Neither the Bateses nor the officers knew that they were pawns in a dangerous game being played 1,200 miles away by a teenager bent on terrifying a random family of strangers.
They were victims of a new kind of telephone fraud that exploits a weakness in the way the 911 system handles calls from Internet-based phone services. The attacks — called “swatting” because armed police SWAT teams usually respond — are virtually unstoppable, and an Associated Press investigation found that budget-strapped 911 centers are essentially defenseless without an overhaul of their computer systems.
Investigators say swatters are usually motivated by a mixture of ego and malice, a desire for revenge and domination over rivals.
Jason Trowbridge, one of the defendants currently serving a five-year sentence, told the AP in a series of letters from prison that the attacks started with the standard fare of prank callers — sending pizzas and locksmiths to victims’ homes — escalated to shutting the power and water off and eventually led to swatting.
“Nobody ever thought anyone would get hurt or die from a SWAT call,” he said.

Now, the ignorance, of course, comes from the genius who uttered that last thing. People HAVE gotten hurt before this particular phenomenon sprang up. Cory Maye and Kathryn Johnston were just a couple of the more high-profile examples, and then of course there were all the innocent animals killed. It'll be interesting to see what effects this has on the First Amendment and what kinds of "reasonable restrictions" those now in charge will put forth to combat this, as opposed to throwing the offenders in jail for a very long time. You never know, though, some of that stimulus money could go toward overhauling the computer systems, but, well, I am not holding my breath on that one, given who those in charge feel stimulates the economy the most.