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Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Ten-year-old interested in flying software
Massachusetts goes on Red Alert.

Michelle links to an article about cops snooping around a woman's house in Massachusetts because she and her ten-year-old son had discussed the possibility of purchasing Microsoft Flight Simulator with the clerk at their local Staples store. Apparently the clerk took the orange alert nonsense a little too seriously and reported them to the FBI.

I don't know if we should be happy or sad about this, but the Freepers seem to feel pretty much the same way as I do about this story. ("Freepers" are the Bush-loving wingnuts who hang out at I googled around for a more complete article on the story, and came up with this one:

The comments from the mother, the Air Force Reserve Pilot, in the article are pretty scary:

"At first, I felt a little angry and violated" about someone telling authorities about her inquiry, said Julie Olearcek, a 15-year Air Force Reserve pilot. "But now that time has gone by, I realize it may take someone like that, who's a little nervous, who may save the day." Olearcek's husband, Henry, is also a flier, currently on active duty, and frequently away from home these days.

About a week before Christmas, Olearcek said the couple's 10-year-old son, who has flight simulation software and is keenly interested in learning to fly like his parents, commented that he'd have to wait until his dad retired to learn to fly by instruments. She went to Staples soon after and took her son to the office supply store, where he looked through the available software.

"He was disappointed because there was military stuff, but it was all fighting stuff, so I asked the clerk, and he was alarmed by us asking how to fly airplanes and said that was against the law," Olearcek said. "I said I couldn't imagine that, but, because (the clerk) was a little on edge ... I left." But "what saves us, is people are paying attention," she said.

Olearcek said she and her husband both were well aware that the Office of Homeland Security had raised the threat level during the holiday and of the generally increased terrorism alert following the Sept. 11 plane attacks.

"And rightly so, this puts people on edge," she said.

That article, which originally came from the Greenfield, MA Recorder newspaper, had been posted on the Free Republic web site. Check out some of the Freepers' comments:

  • "he was alarmed by us asking how to fly airplanes and said that was against the law" -- Jaw dropping stupidity. How does such a person even get through the day?
  • "he was alarmed by us asking how to fly airplanes and said that was against the law" -- Seems a little Gestapo like to me!
  • "At first I felt like, 'Wait a minute, this is America.' But we also have to understand... It isn't, anymore. Score one for the alliance of international terrorists and home-grown power-hungry police."