I have been thinking back to the fake bomb scare that we had on the Plaza on June 29 of June. I do not want to demolish or otherwise explode anyone's belief system, but it all appears, in hindsight, as a somewhat bizarre occurrence.




First of all, the focus of this farce was ... the much-abused statue of Abraham Lincoln. I do not want us to lose our heads about this faux threat, nor appear bombastic, but maybe we should encase the cosmetically enhanced representation of Honest Abe in bulletproof glass and call it good.




It is still not clear to me that the ruse would have passed for a major threat before 9/11, but now that our great nation has been reduced to a fright of shivering sheep, afraid to question our government about the most basic constitutional questions, one feels abundantly compelled to address how the use of fear has substantially neutered our once vigorous public discourse.




I found it incredulous that the Plaza was shuttered and sealed while we waited for hours for a bomb squad to arrive and assemble before blasting what evidence we had to smithereens by a robot doing a High Noon with a water cannon.




I fully believe that everyone did what they thought was appropriate at the time, but when I read that one member of our senior staff went online and used Google Earth to determine that the former Hillah Temple was a 315 feet away and, according to somebody's green emergency manual, a safe place to be when under attack by a gift-wrapped ruse of unknown potency, I slapped my head and ordered a V-8. Anyone who has attended a football game knows what 100 yards looks like. Any kid, any juvenile and any adult, except, apparently, in Ashland. A few feet in either direction would not have meant anything, except to the compilers of the seldom-used manual.




My best guess is that if you can see what you believe to be a bomb, well, you're simply too close, regardless of what the manual says.




The "danger zone" was identified as a 300-foot circle surrounding the statue, which is an amazing piece of prattle, as no one had any idea what the package might contain. As imaginations ran rampant there was talk of C4 sprinkled with a biological agent, which would have made the 100 yard "danger zone" a meaningless term. I would not have been surprised to see blast walls being placed around Iron Mike. I guess we were extra lucky that the Lithia Water fountain is still safely sequestered in one of our undisclosed locations, thereby unavailable as a civic target of terror.




When a Jackson County Sheriff arrived to inspect the fake bomb he chose, I presume for the sake of safety, to look at a Daily Tidings digital picture of the device. He could have done the same thing from Medford, but I guess he drove to the Plaza to reassure us that Homeland Security was alive and kicking.




After the robot destroyed the evidence I began to ask a few questions about how the fiber optic leashed bomb squad device worked, how much did it cost and why did it take a couple of hours to be put into action. At first I was given stares, then glares. When I ventured another question my photograph was taken, my mouth swabbed for DNA and my dog, Spooky, scanned for a microchip. Fortunately I am who I said I was and the dog played cute. We were asked to leave and did so in a flash, which only sparked new controversy.




There is no end to protective measures that might be taken in response to a bomb threat. We didn't have fighters jets circling overhead, tanks rumbling down the street, underwater craft patrolling the ponds or creek, nor real-time satellite images of Old Abe's feet. We didn't have any of these things because they are all deployed in Iraq.




Our staff, police and citizens all did their jobs. Everyone was cool and only Honest Abe stood to lose his head, again.




Lance was last seen on maneuvers somewhere in Southern Oregon. He's still wearing that tin hat, which he wears while beaming a smile. You may disarm him by moving some assets to lance@journalist.com.