Playing foolish games
Dec 04, 2012 | 576 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Last week’s mindless hoax that forced the evacuation of 30 courthouses and government buildings across the state — including the Bradley County Courthouse — proved once again some people have just too much time on their hands.

Like most Americans, we will keep our fingers crossed that unemployment rates will continue their spiral to assure that a select few will have less time for such tomfoolery.

Of course, some might argue the type of bomb threats that blanketed our state could just as easily have been perpetrated by the gainfully employed. Absolutely true. Perhaps then, it is time for a few job descriptions to be reviewed to ensure less time for aimless distractions.

Obviously, we take a tongue-in-cheek approach to an otherwise serious dilemma.

According to reports by The Associated Press, last week’s organized prank landed Tennessee as the fourth state in the last month forced to deal with similar bomb threats. One targeted 28 courthouses in Oregon and hoaxes have been reported in Nebraska and Washington as well.

The culprits — whether they are child geniuses, restless teens, vindictive young adults, someone with a medical or emotional disability, or simply those bored beyond measure — apparently consider such shenanigans to be funny. We do not. Frankly, we didn’t even chuckle.

Here’s why.

1. Forced evacuations of any private, public or government facility — in spite of organized, routine drills — don’t always go as planned. Even if no apparent threat is evident — such as smoke or fire — people don’t always follow procedures. This can lead to personal injury or worse.

2. People are people so their reactions to threat — real, phony or perceived — vary. Most remain calm. But some panic. Such states of duress lead to the same potential — physical injury.

3. Human health also comes into play. Of those Cleveland and Bradley County residents, and visitors, inside the Courthouse during last Tuesday’s evacuation, how many had fragile conditions that could have been impacted by such a scare? Heart attacks, spells of fainting, stumbles down crowded stairways ... any number of incidents could occur, even in the most organized of evacuations.

4. Then we come to the financials. How much money was wasted by the mandatory emergency response by area firefighters, law enforcement officers, emergency management personnel and others whose jobs required that they be on the scene, assisting with the evacuation and investigating the cause? A similar incident occurred at the Bradley County Courthouse not long ago and its cost was estimated to be in the thousands of dollars in taxpayer money.

5. Disruption of service is a reality. Government operations throughout the Courthouse were shut down. Halted. Temporarily suspended. Important work could have been lost. Visitors on Courthouse business were forced to delay their tasks. Consider this as well. Any meeting, all government sessions and every court proceeding under way are stopped under the air of such threats.

Here’s the bottom line. Last week’s needless hoax led to undue risk to Bradley County Courthouse employees and patrons alike. Had serious injury occurred — or worse — to any, the finger of responsibility would point directly to those responsible for the hoax.

Some readers might roll their eyes with a smirk and dismiss the incident as somebody’s idea of a bad joke.

Bad? Yes. Joke? Jokes are supposed to be funny.

This was not.

We grow increasingly fatigued with this type of child’s play. And for the record, this is not a reference to age, but to blatant immaturity. Anyone who would perpetrate such an act does so with the unthinking attitude of a child.

We trust an investigation will eventually identify the guilty.

And when it does, we suggest less due process and more due punishment.